[Federal Register Volume 82, Number 235 (Friday, December 8, 2017)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 57876-57884]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2017-24982]


=======================================================================
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION

47 CFR Parts 1 and 73

[MB Docket No. 17-106; FCC 17-137]


Elimination of Main Studio Rule

AGENCY: Federal Communications Commission.

ACTION: Final rule.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC 
or Commission) eliminates the rule that requires each AM, FM, and 
television broadcast station to maintain a main studio located in or 
near its community of license. The FCC also eliminates existing 
requirements associated with the rule, including the requirement that 
the main studio have full-time management and staff present during 
normal business hours, and that it have program origination capability.

DATES: Effective January 8, 2018, except for Sec. Sec.  73.3526(c)(1) 
and 73.3527(c)(1), which contain new or modified information collection 
requirements, and which shall become effective after the Commission 
publishes a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval 
and the relevant effective date.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For additional information on this 
proceeding, contact Diana Sokolow, [email protected], of the Policy 
Division, Media Bureau, (202) 418-2120.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This is a summary of the Commission's Report 
and Order (R&O), FCC 17-137, adopted and released on October 24, 2017. 
The full text of this document is available for public inspection and 
copying during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, 
Federal Communications Commission, 445 12th Street SW., Room CY-A257, 
Washington, DC 20554. This document will also be available via ECFS at 
http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/. Documents will be available 
electronically in ASCII, Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat. Copies 
of the materials can be obtained from the FCC's Reference Information 
Center at (202) 418-0270. Alternative formats are available for people 
with disabilities (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio 
format), by sending an email to [email protected] or calling the 
Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 
(voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).

Synopsis

    1. The Commission in this R&O adopts the proposal in the Notice of 
Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), 82 FR 25590 (June 2, 2017), to eliminate 
the Commission rule requiring AM, FM, and television broadcast stations 
to maintain a local main studio.\1\ We also adopt the proposal to 
eliminate the associated staffing and program origination capability 
requirements that apply to main studios. To ensure that community 
members retain the ability to communicate with and obtain information 
regarding their local stations, we retain the existing requirement that 
broadcasters maintain a local or toll-free telephone number. We also 
require stations to maintain any portion of their public file that is 
not part of the online public file at a publicly accessible location 
within the station's community of license. Finally, we make conforming 
edits to other Commission rules that are necessitated by the 
elimination of the main studio rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Because we are eliminating the main studio rule, we need not 
address one commenter's argument that the current main studio rule 
is unenforceable under the Administrative Procedure Act. We also 
decline to address herein arguments that are outside the scope of 
this proceeding, which is limited to elimination of the main studio 
rule and the associated staffing and program origination capability 
requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    2. We agree with the vast majority of commenters \2\ in this 
proceeding that the main studio rule should be eliminated. We are 
persuaded that eliminating the rule will result in significant cost 
savings for broadcasters and other public interest benefits. For 
example, the record shows that in some small towns and rural areas the 
cost of complying with the current main studio rule dissuades 
broadcasters from launching a station, even if the broadcaster has 
already obtained a construction permit for the station. Eliminating the 
rule thus may lead to increased broadcast service in those areas. In 
addition, as commenters suggest, eliminating the main studio rule will 
provide broadcasters with the same flexibility as Internet radio 
stations and cable and satellite providers, none of which are subject 
to a main studio requirement. While we recognize the importance of 
local broadcast television and radio stations as a source of news and 
information, we agree with NAB that the record does not provide any 
``evidence that the physical location of a station's main studio is the 
reason local broadcasters are able to deliver content that meets the 
needs and interest[s] of their communities, or that the location and 
staffing of the studio has any relationship to the ability of a station 
to serve its local audience.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ Contrary to the suggestion of Common Frequency, the ample 
record in this proceeding provides the Commission with sufficient 
information to proceed to this R&O.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    3. We affirm the tentative conclusion in the NPRM that 
technological innovations have rendered local studios unnecessary as a 
means for viewers and listeners to communicate with or access their 
local stations and to carry out the other traditional functions that 
they have served. The record shows that it is exceedingly rare for a 
member of the public to visit a station's main studio, with community 
members overwhelmingly choosing instead to communicate with stations 
through more efficient means such as email, station Web sites, social 
media, mail, or telephone.\3\ This has been the case even more so since 
the Commission created the online public inspection file. Once 
broadcasters fully transition to the online public file in early 2018, 
requiring stations to maintain a fully staffed main studio for purposes 
of providing access to the file will no longer be practical or 
justifiable. It is also relevant that community members already 
participate in station shows from outside the main studio, for example 
by appearing via telephone or Skype. As some commenters state, in-
person visits from community members are now ``unnecessary, if not 
obsolete,'' as a result of the ``near ubiquity of remote 
communication.'' \4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ Although broadcast licensees are obligated to serve ``the 
public interest, convenience, and necessity,'' we find that 
``convenience'' need not include reasonable physical access to the 
station's facilities in the community of license, contrary to the 
suggestion of one commenter, given how rarely community members 
today opt to access such facilities.
    \4\ In addition, some commenters point to the legitimate public 
safety concerns that are associated with allowing uninvited members 
of the public to visit a station's main studio.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 57877]]

    4. We disagree with arguments that in the absence of a local main 
studio, the Commission will be unable to ensure that a station serves 
its local community. Broadcast licensees still will be required to 
include in their public inspection files, on a quarterly basis, a list 
of those ``programs that have provided the station's most significant 
treatment of community issues during the preceding three month 
period,'' including a brief description of each relevant program. 
Further, as part of the broadcast station license renewal process, the 
Commission is required to find that ``the station has served the public 
interest, convenience, and necessity'' during its preceding license 
term. In particular, ``[o]ne of a television broadcaster's fundamental 
public interest obligations is to air programming responsive to the 
needs and interests of its community of license.''
    5. We also are not persuaded by contentions that broadcasters' 
local community involvement or the provision of local news will 
significantly decline if we eliminate the main studio rule. Broadcast 
commenters explain that they keep apprised of local needs and issues to 
distinguish themselves from their competitors, to gain popularity and 
thus advertising dollars or, in the case of noncommercial educational 
(NCE) stations, contributions, and to fulfill their public interest 
obligations.\5\ Broadcasters will retain these incentives even in the 
absence of the main studio rule.\6\ In addition, we agree with 
Univision that today, ``providing service to, interacting with, and 
maintaining awareness of a community is not dependent upon locating a 
station's offices within certain arbitrary geographic boundaries 
imposed by the'' main studio rule. To the contrary, broadcasters can 
interact with local community members by using technology such as 
social media, and even without a local main studio, broadcasters can 
use modern technology to broadcast information about local events. The 
main studio rule does not require broadcasters to provide any 
particular level of local coverage or involvement in the local 
community, and there is no evidence in the record that elimination of 
this rule will cause a decrease in such involvement or coverage.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \5\ We note that the main studio rule does not require 
broadcasters to provide coverage of their local communities; rather, 
the rule simply governs the permissible location of a station's main 
studio.
    \6\ The record suggests that not all stations will choose to 
eliminate their current main studios after the main studio rule is 
repealed. Those stations that do choose to eliminate their current 
main studios likely will often maintain an office or studio that is 
convenient to their viewers or listeners, so that, among other 
things, community members can appear in person to serve as on-air 
guests or attend in-studio events, and so that contest prize winners 
can visit the station to retrieve their prizes.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    6. We reject claims that the elimination of the main studio rule 
will have a negative impact on broadcasters' ability to broadcast 
emergency and time-sensitive information. One commenter explains that 
in terms of ``a station's ability to communicate time-sensitive or 
emergency information to the public,'' today telephone and Internet 
communications are more efficient than an in-person interaction at a 
local studio. In furtherance of their obligation to serve their 
communities of license, commenters state that broadcasters will 
continue providing timely emergency information to their viewers and 
listeners. Additionally, we note that the elimination of the main 
studio rule will not in any way alter a station's obligations to 
transmit emergency alerts received via the emergency alert system 
(EAS).\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \7\ As explained below, broadcasters already have processes in 
place to ensure that they are responsive to emergency situations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    7. Because we find that technological innovations have eliminated 
the need for a local main studio, the costs of complying with the main 
studio rule substantially outweigh any benefits.\8\ Broadcasters detail 
the significant costs that they face under the main studio rule, 
including such expenses as: (a) Rent, utilities, insurance, and 
maintenance costs for the studio itself; (b) equipment and transmission 
facilities; and (c) salaries, taxes, insurance, and benefits for the 
main studio's two full-time employees. Broadcasters claim that main 
studio-related costs range from $20,000 per year to several hundred 
thousand dollars per year.\9\ One broadcaster states that it could 
consolidate main studios and save more than $10 million annually. The 
main studio rule imposes significant and burdensome costs on 
broadcasters, particularly smaller broadcasters and NCE stations.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \8\ This rationale for eliminating the main studio rule applies 
to all broadcast stations, and we thus will eliminate the rule in 
its entirety rather than eliminating it only for a certain subset of 
stations.
    \9\ Due to the specific information broadcasters have provided 
regarding costs of compliance with the current main studio rule and 
associated requirements, we are not persuaded by commenters' 
unsupported arguments that maintaining a local main studio ``has 
never been more affordable'' and that broadcasters do not need 
relief from the Commission in this regard.
    \10\ Some commenters claim, without evidence, that small and 
independent broadcasters will not benefit from the elimination of 
the main studio rule because they likely will not relocate their 
existing studios and will become unable to compete against 
consolidated multi-station broadcasters. The fact-based statements 
of small broadcasters in this proceeding, detailing the costs of 
compliance with the main studio rule and the potential benefits to 
them of the elimination of the rule, belie these claims.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    8. The cost savings broadcasters may achieve following elimination 
of the main studio rule will enable them to allocate greater resources 
to local programming and other matters such as community outreach, 
newsgathering, equipment upgrades, and attracting new talent and 
personnel. According to some commenters, such savings could even 
prevent some stations from going dark. Stations will have the 
flexibility to operate studios in the most efficient manner, and some 
stations that are co-owned or jointly operated may find it to be more 
efficient for them to co-locate their studios.\11\ We conclude that 
providing stations with the maximum flexibility by eliminating the main 
studio rule in its entirety is preferable to the more limited 
approaches proposed by some commenters, which could still impose 
significant cost burdens on some stations and would not entirely 
address concerns that the costs of complying with the main studio rule 
are no longer justified today.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \11\ Contrary to the suggestion of one commenter, we see no 
evidence in the record that any broadcast station would attempt to 
move its studio outside of this country, and we question whether 
doing so would be feasible or economical.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    9. Eliminating the main studio rule and associated requirements is 
not inconsistent with section 307(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, 
as amended (the Act), which requires the Commission to ``make such 
distribution of licenses, frequencies, hours of operation, and of power 
among the several States and communities as to provide for a fair, 
efficient, and equitable distribution of radio service to each of the 
same.'' In the absence of the main studio rule, broadcast stations 
still will be licensed to a specific community of license, and they 
will be obligated to place a certain signal contour over that 
community. As noted above, broadcasters also will remain subject to 
license renewal and quarterly issues/programs list requirements. 
Moreover, programming designed to meet a community's needs and 
interests can be produced anywhere today. For the reasons discussed 
herein, the record supports our finding that a local main studio is no 
longer necessary to ensure that broadcast stations serve their local 
communities,\12\ and thus eliminating

[[Page 57878]]

the main studio requirement will not prevent compliance with the 
distribution directive in section 307(b) of the Act.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \12\ We thus reject claims that the main studio rule is still 
needed to meet the obligations in section 307(b) of the Act. In 
addition, we agree with NAB that any assertion that the main studio 
rule is needed to enforce the ``transmission service'' requirement 
is misplaced because ``[t]he Commission effectively abandoned this 
definition of transmission service when it eliminated the program 
origination requirement.''
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    10. We note that the Commission or Media Bureau has previously 
granted waivers of the main studio rule. Our decision to eliminate the 
main studio requirement supersedes these waiver grants, including 
pledges that the licensees made in connection with those waivers, with 
one exception discussed below.\13\ Accordingly, as of the effective 
date of the rules adopted in this R&O, stations that have previously 
received a waiver of the main studio rule must comply with the 
Commission's rules, including the requirement to maintain a local or 
toll-free number, rather than the licensee pledges, if any, associated 
with their superseded waiver grants. Upon the elimination of the main 
studio rule, it would not make sense to continue subjecting stations to 
the commitments they made in obtaining a waiver of the main studio 
rule, including any related recordkeeping requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \13\ The main studio waiver grants are superseded by this R&O 
because there will no longer be a main studio rule to be waived. 
Given that waivers of the main studio rule will no longer be 
necessary, we need not address one commenter's claim that the 
current waiver process leads to an unfair and inefficient 
distribution of radio services. Below we explain one type of main 
studio waiver for which we will grandfather the station's current 
main studio as a permissible location for its local public file.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    11. In addition to eliminating the main studio rule itself, we 
adopt our NPRM proposal to eliminate the staffing requirements 
currently associated with the rule. This will provide broadcasters with 
more flexibility to staff their operations as they see fit. Pursuant to 
Commission precedent, there currently must be two employees (one 
management and one staff) present on a full-time basis at a main studio 
during normal business hours. Given the technological advances that 
enable remote monitoring and control of broadcast stations, commenters 
attest that some main studio employees have nothing to do but sit at 
the main studio in fulfillment of this requirement. Commenters 
persuasively state that it can be difficult for small or rural stations 
and for financially-challenged AM stations to support two full-time 
employees. For example, station KIHT(FM) is licensed to Amboy, 
California (population: four) and serves motorists traveling through 
the Mojave Desert. One employee travels over an hour each way each day 
to staff the main studio.
    12. We find that decisions regarding location and number of staff 
members should be left to broadcast licensees.\14\ Although we 
acknowledge that elimination of the main studio staffing requirement 
possibly could lead to fewer employees available to interact person to 
person at the physical station office, we have explained above that 
technology enables broadcasters to interact with the local community 
and to broadcast information about local events even without a local 
main studio. Eliminating the main studio requirement and associated 
staffing requirement promotes our statutory goals by allowing 
broadcasters to allocate greater resources to programming and other 
matters, promoting increased broadcast service in small towns and rural 
areas, and preventing stations from going dark. To the extent 
commenters express concerns about potential job loss following the 
elimination of the main studio rule and the associated staffing 
requirement, we do not believe we are required to disregard our 
statutory goals to prevent such loss. Further, preventing stations from 
going dark and enabling broadcasters to launch stations that they 
otherwise may not launch may promote employment.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \14\ We caution that the deletion of the main studio rule does 
not in any way limit or reduce broadcast licensees' obligation and 
responsibility to retain and maintain control over essential station 
matters, such as personnel, programming, and finances. The 
Commission expects that broadcast licensees will continue to be able 
to demonstrate such control notwithstanding the elimination of the 
main studio rule and the staffing requirements associated with the 
main studio rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    13. In addition to the foregoing, we also adopt our NPRM proposal 
to eliminate the program origination capability requirement currently 
associated with the main studio rule. This will provide broadcasters 
greater flexibility with respect to their programming operations. 
Pursuant to Commission precedent, the main studio currently must be 
capable of transmitting programming and must be equipped with 
production and transmission facilities. When the Commission decided 
thirty years ago to eliminate its rule requiring stations to actually 
originate programming at their main studios, it concluded that ``the 
main studio no longer plays the central role in the production of a 
station's programming and programming originated from within the 
political boundaries of the community is not necessarily responsive to 
the needs and interests of the community.'' \15\ Conversely, the 
Commission has recognized for decades that non-locally produced 
programming can serve the needs of a community. Those statements are 
only more true today. Technology makes it easier than ever before to 
originate locally relevant programming from locations outside of the 
station's community of license, and the existence of technology that 
enables stations to provide local broadcast coverage without a local 
main studio also moots concerns that licensees need a local main studio 
to broadcast emergency information.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \15\ In that order, the Commission recognized the limited 
utility of the program origination requirement by deleting its rule 
requiring each broadcast station to originate more than 50 percent 
of its non-network programs from its main studio or other points 
within its community of license.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    14. There is no evidence in the record that the current program 
origination capability requirement has enhanced local programming or 
otherwise served the public interest. Commenters state that many 
broadcasters that currently originate programming locally will continue 
to do so in the absence of the current program origination capability 
requirement. In any case, it appears that the location from which 
programming is originated is irrelevant to whether the programing 
serves a community's needs and interests. We agree with broadcast 
commenters ``that a licensee's understanding of the needs and concerns 
of its station's audience,'' not the physical location of its studio or 
program production equipment, ``promotes the broadcast of issue-
responsive programming.'' \16\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \16\ For this reason, we reject the assertion that a main 
studio's most important function is program origination capability.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    15. As proposed in the NPRM, we retain Sec.  73.1125(e) of our 
rules, which requires ``[e]ach AM, FM, TV and Class A TV broadcast 
station [to] maintain a local telephone number in its community of 
license or a toll-free number.'' NAB supports this requirement, which 
it says ``keep[s] the community well-informed and [is] not unduly 
burdensome.'' The telephone number rule permits station owners to 
provide one telephone number for multiple stations, provided that the 
number is toll-free or local to each station's community of 
license.\17\ Some consumers are subject to an additional fee for non-
local calls, and we thus retain the requirement for a local or toll-
free number. Retaining the telephone number rule will help promote 
continued access to local broadcast

[[Page 57879]]

stations by community members upon elimination of the main studio 
rule.\18\ We find that retaining the existing rule is an appropriate 
means to ensure that members of the public can easily contact station 
representatives and receive timely responses.\19\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \17\ Implicit in the requirement to maintain a local or toll-
free number is the requirement that phone calls made to this number 
be answered during business hours. We encourage broadcasters to use 
voicemail or another way for consumers to leave messages outside of 
stations' normal business hours.
    \18\ We recognize that there is some cost to stations of 
maintaining a local or toll-free telephone number, but we find that 
on balance the relatively limited cost is outweighed by the benefit 
of ensuring that the station remains accessible to local community 
members.
    \19\ NFIB has proposed instead that the Commission adopt a 
functional requirement that each station ``ensure that persons in 
its community of license have a reasonable opportunity to 
communicate with the station through at least one generally 
available means of communication at no charge.'' We find that such 
an approach would be unworkable for consumers who do not use email 
and thus would have no way to contact a station if the station 
eliminates its local main studio. Accordingly, maintenance of the 
current telephone number requirement is a more practical approach.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    16. Stations currently are required to post their telephone numbers 
in their online public files.\20\ We retain that requirement and do not 
require stations to publicize their phone numbers in any additional 
ways. We agree with commenters that broadcasters have extensive 
marketplace incentives and license obligations to be accessible and 
responsive to their audience, and we note that telephone numbers by 
their nature generally are accessible in other ways. Broadcasters will 
retain the flexibility to determine whether they want to publicize 
their telephone numbers in additional ways. For example, most stations 
already choose to post their telephone numbers on their Web sites.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \20\ These rules also currently require a station to include its 
main studio address, and as discussed below we modify them to 
require the public file to include the station's address (rather 
than its main studio address). The posted address should be a 
location at which the licensee may be contacted by mail and in 
person, for example, a studio, office, or headquarters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    17. Furthermore, in the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on 
whether additional requirements are needed to ensure that broadcasters 
are responsive to time-sensitive and emergency information. Because 
broadcasters already coordinate with federal, state, and local 
emergency management officials, as well as law enforcement officials, 
to address emergencies that occur at any time of day, we conclude that 
there is no need to adopt additional requirements pertaining to 
broadcast station responsiveness to time-sensitive or emergency 
information.\21\ While some commenters reference such requirements, 
other commenters persuasively explain that broadcasters already have 
processes in place to ensure that station personnel are available to 
receive and broadcast time-sensitive emergency information. On balance, 
we conclude that the adoption of additional rules would not necessarily 
improve broadcasters' responsiveness to local emergencies, and we thus 
find that there is no evidence that the cost of such obligations would 
be justified by any purported benefits.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \21\ Nothing in this R&O is intended to alter the obligation on 
licensees to post a written document designating the station's Chief 
Operator along with the posted copy of the station's license, as set 
forth in 47 CFR 73.1870(b)(3).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    18. As discussed below, and as supported by NAB and other 
broadcasters, we require every broadcast station applicant, permittee, 
or licensee to maintain any portion of its public file that is not part 
of the online public file at an accessible place within its community 
of license. Pursuant to the Commission's online public file rules, in 
the very near future there will be only limited instances in which any 
portion of a station's public inspection file will be permitted to be 
maintained at the station's main studio rather than online.\22\ In 
2012, the Commission adopted rules requiring television broadcasters to 
utilize an online public file hosted by the Commission, rather than 
maintaining the public file locally, and television stations completed 
their transition to the online public file in 2014. In 2016, the 
Commission adopted rules expanding the online public file requirement 
to broadcast radio licensees. As of June 24, 2016, commercial broadcast 
radio stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio radio markets with five or 
more full-time employees were required to place new public and 
political file documents in the online public file on a going-forward 
basis. By December 24, 2016, these entities were required to upload 
their existing public file documents to the online file, except for 
existing political file material which they may either upload or 
maintain locally until the expiration of the two-year retention period 
for such political file material. Beginning March 1, 2018, all other 
broadcast radio stations \23\ must place new public and political file 
documents in the online public file on a going-forward basis. They must 
also upload their existing public file documents to the online file by 
that date, except for existing political file material which they may 
either upload or maintain locally until the expiration of the two-year 
retention period for such political file material. In other words, 
community members already have online access to television station 
public files, and by March 1, 2018 they will have online access to 
radio station public files, with the potential exception of preexisting 
portions of the political file that the station may retain locally 
until the expiration of the two-year retention period for such 
materials.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \22\ Sections 73.3526(e) and 73.3527(e) of the Commission's 
rules set forth the required contents of the station's public 
inspection file. These contents include the ``political file,'' 
which consists of the records required to be maintained under Sec.  
73.1943 of our rules concerning broadcasts by candidates for public 
office.
    \23\ This includes NCE broadcast radio stations, commercial 
broadcast radio stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio radio markets 
with fewer than five full-time employees, and commercial broadcast 
radio stations in markets below the top 50 or outside all markets.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    19. Nonetheless, we recognize the need to ensure that community 
members have local access to a station's public file for any timeframe 
during which all or a portion of that file is not available via the 
online public file. Accordingly, we require every broadcast station 
applicant, permittee, or licensee to maintain any portion of its public 
file that is not part of the online public file at an accessible place 
within its community of license. NAB and other broadcasters support 
this approach. The ``accessible place'' could be a station office or 
studio, if it is located within the community of license, or it could 
be a different location such as a local library or another station's 
office or studio. The file must be available for public inspection at 
any time during regular business hours, as is currently the case with 
regard to access to a public file maintained at a station's main 
studio.\24\ If a station has transitioned to the online public file 
with the exception of its existing political file materials, which 
certain stations may maintain locally until the two-year retention 
period expires as discussed above, then the station must maintain a 
copy of its existing political file materials at an accessible place 
within its community of license until it is no longer required to 
retain those materials.\25\ We note that any station

[[Page 57880]]

that wishes to avoid this requirement has the option to instead fully 
transition to the Commission's online public file system.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \24\ The other requirements of existing Sec. Sec.  73.3526(c)(1) 
and 73.3527(c)(1) of our rules also will apply to the selected 
location of the public file within the community of license. 
Sections 73.3526(b) and 73.3527(b) of our rules currently contain 
multiple references to the hard copy public inspection file 
maintained at a station or at the station's main studio, and we will 
revise this language instead to reference retention of the file at 
an accessible place in the community of license (with the exception 
of references that are limited to timeframes in the past).
    \25\ Urban One states, ``a radio station that has voluntarily 
uploaded all political materials that are required to be maintained 
to its online file should have no obligation to make public file 
material available other than online.'' As explained above, certain 
stations may locally retain political file materials that were 
existing as of a certain date, rather than uploading them to the 
online public file, until the expiration of the two-year retention 
period for those materials. To the extent Urban One is arguing that 
we should permit stations to include new political file materials in 
the online public file, but not to make existing political file 
materials available either locally or through the online public 
file, we disagree. To the contrary, we find that it is important to 
ensure that community members have local access to all portions of 
the public inspection file that are not part of the online public 
file. If it is too inconvenient or costly to maintain these 
materials locally, then a station may choose to post them to the 
online public file instead. In addition, we note that a change to 
the material that is required to be part of a station's public file 
is outside the scope of this proceeding.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    20. In addition, if a broadcast station currently maintains its 
local public file at a main studio that complies with the current main 
studio rule but is not within the station's community of license, and 
if the station retains that studio, we will grandfather that studio as 
a permissible location for the station's local public file for the 
period before completion of the station's transition to the online 
public file.\26\ Similarly, some existing waivers of the main studio 
rule permit stations to maintain their public files at the station's 
main studio outside the community of license.\27\ We also will 
grandfather any such studio as a permissible location for the station's 
local public file for the period before completion of the station's 
transition to the online public file. This approach will ensure that 
stations with current waivers do not face increased burdens as a result 
of the elimination of the main studio rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \26\ Sections 73.3526(c)(2) and 73.3527(c)(2) of our rules 
currently govern access to material in the public file by mail where 
the applicant, permittee, or licensee maintains its main studio and 
public file outside its community of license. These current rules 
will remain in place, but we will delete the phrase ``main studio 
and,'' such that the provisions will be triggered if an applicant, 
permittee, or licensee maintains its public file outside its 
community of license because the station's studio is grandfathered 
as a permissible location for the file, as discussed herein.
    \27\ Some main studio waivers reference a licensee pledge to 
maintain the public file in the community of license, while others 
permit the licensee to maintain the public file at the main studio 
subject to the waiver.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    21. A community member seeking access to a station's public 
inspection file in the community of license may contact the station to 
inquire as to the location of the file, for example via its required 
telephone number or email. Stations must promptly provide information 
regarding the location of the file within one business day of a 
request. In addition, we encourage stations that make public file 
materials available at an accessible place in the community to provide 
that location on their Web site, if they have a Web site, and by any 
other means that the station deems effective.
    22. In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on whether 
alternatively it should only eliminate the main studio rule for 
stations that have fully transitioned all public file material to the 
online public file, including existing political file materials. While 
some commenters support this alternate approach, we agree with NAB that 
we should not limit in this manner the public interest benefits that 
will follow the elimination of the main studio rule.\28\ The later 
March 1, 2018 online public file deadline generally applies to smaller 
stations.\29\ Some of these entities may be most adversely impacted by 
the costs of complying with the current main studio rule, and we 
conclude that we should not disadvantage them by denying them the 
benefits of the repeal of the rule. As discussed above, the costs 
savings of eliminating the rule will be significant and will apply to 
all types of broadcast stations. Given our decision to require 
maintenance of paper files at an accessible location in the community 
if they are not available via the online public file, the benefits of 
retaining the main studio rule for those stations that do not use the 
online public file would be minimal, if they exist at all. Indeed, in 
many cases the station may locate its file at its current main studio, 
and in other cases we expect that the selected local file location will 
be equally, if not more, convenient to residents as compared to the 
station's current main studio. For example, if a station previously 
maintained its main studio outside of its community of license, as 
permitted under the current rule, and the station chooses to cease 
operating that local studio as a result of this R&O, then it may be 
more convenient for community members to access the local file at a 
location within the community of license, as we require here.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \28\ In addition, we will not adopt the proposal of one 
commenter that we only permit stations to eliminate their current 
main studios if they make their public file available both online 
and at a business or library in the station's community of license. 
Given that it is sufficient for a station currently to make its 
public file available online only, we see no reason to require an 
additional means of access if the station eliminates its current 
main studio and its entire public file is available through the 
Commission's online public file.
    \29\ The deadline applies to NCE broadcast radio stations, 
commercial broadcast radio stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio 
radio markets with fewer than five full-time employees, and 
commercial broadcast radio stations in markets below the top 50 or 
outside all markets.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    23. As a result of our repeal of the main studio rule, we also will 
make the following conforming rule revisions as shown in the Final 
Rules:
     In Sec.  1.80, delete the row of the chart detailing the 
base forfeiture amount for violations of the main studio rule.\30\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \30\ We will continue to rely on the base forfeiture amount of 
$7000 as a starting point in assessing a forfeiture for any 
violations of the main studio rule that occurred before the 
effective date of the elimination of the rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     In Sec.  1.1104, delete the four rows detailing the 
schedule of charges for a ``Main Studio Request,'' and re-letter the 
remaining listings accordingly.
     In the definition of ``equipment performance 
measurements'' in Sec.  73.14 of our rules, delete ``at main studio.''
     Delete Sec.  73.761(d) of our rules, which currently 
governs formal applications for a change in main studio location, and 
renumber the remainder of the rule.
     In Sec.  73.1400(a)(1)(ii) of our rules, change the 
reference to ``the main studio or other location'' to ``a studio or 
other location.''
     Delete Sec.  73.1690(c)(8)(ii) of our rules, which 
currently states that both commercial and NCE FM stations must comply 
with the main studio rule, and renumber the remainder of the rule.
     Delete Sec.  73.1690(d)(1) of our rules, which currently 
governs permissive changes in studio location, and renumber the 
remainder of the rule.
     Modify Sec. Sec.  73.3526(b)(2)(ii) and 73.3527(b)(2)(iii) 
of our rules, which currently require the public file to include the 
station's main studio address and telephone number, instead to require 
the public file to include the station's address and telephone 
number.\31\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \31\ As stated above, the posted address should be a location at 
which the licensee may be contacted by mail and in person, for 
example, a studio, office, or headquarters.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

     Delete the reference to ``main studio'' in Sec. Sec.  
73.3526(e)(4) and 73.3527(e)(3) of our rules, which currently require 
inclusion of information showing service contours and/or main studio 
and transmitter location in the public file.
     Delete Sec.  73.3538(b)(2) of our rules, which currently 
governs informal applications to relocate a main studio, and renumber 
the remainder of the rule.
     Delete Sec.  73.3544(b)(3) of our rules, which currently 
governs informal applications for a change in location of the main 
studio, and renumber the remainder of the rule.\32\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \32\ We also adopt the proposal to delete the outdated reference 
in Sec.  73.1690(d)(2) to Sec.  73.1410, which has been deleted.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

[[Page 57881]]

     In the alphabetical index to part 73, delete the four rows 
that reference Sec.  73.1125.
    24. We also will delete Sec.  73.6000(3) of our rules and will 
require Class A stations to meet the required quantity of ``locally 
produced programming'' through programming that complies with Sec.  
73.6000(1) or (2). Consistent with the Community Broadcasters 
Protection Act of 1999, Sec.  73.6001(b)(2) requires Class A stations 
to broadcast an average of at least three hours of locally produced 
programming per week each quarter. Section 73.6000 defines locally 
produced programming for these purposes as programming that is:
    (1) Produced within the predicted Grade B contour of the station 
broadcasting the program or within the contiguous predicted Grade B 
contours of any of the stations in a commonly owned group; or
    (2) Produced within the predicted DTV noise-limited contour . . . 
of a digital Class A station broadcasting the program or within the 
contiguous predicted DTV noise-limited contours of any of the digital 
Class A stations in a commonly owned group; or
    (3) Programming produced at the station's main studio.

Upon deletion of the main studio rule, we find that it is appropriate 
to delete option (3). Options (1) and (2) are sufficiently broad that 
it should not be difficult for Class A stations to meet the required 
quantity of locally produced programming.\33\ Our approach will 
alleviate the concern of Free Press that eliminating the main studio 
rule would ``effectively nullify'' the Class A requirement pertaining 
to the quantity of locally produced programming.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \33\ The Commission grandfathered certain main studios that did 
not comply with the main studio rule when it implemented the 
Community Broadcasters Protection Act of 1999 creating the Class A 
service. For those Class A stations currently operating at 
grandfathered main studios that are outside the locations described 
in Sec.  73.6000(1)-(2) of our rules, we will continue to consider 
programming produced at that previously grandfathered main studio to 
be locally produced.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    25. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as 
amended (RFA), an Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) was 
incorporated in the NPRM. The Commission sought written public comments 
on proposals in the NPRM, including comment on the IRFA. The Commission 
received no comments on the IRFA, although some commenters discussed 
the effect of the proposals on smaller entities. The present Final 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (FRFA) conforms to the RFA. In summary, 
the R&O adopts the proposal to eliminate the Commission's main studio 
rule and existing requirements associated with the main studio rule. 
The R&O is authorized pursuant to sections 4(i), 4(j), 303, 307(b), and 
336(f) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 
154(j), 303, 307(b), 336(f). The types of small entities that may be 
affected by the R&O fall within the following categories: Television 
Broadcasting, Radio Stations. The projected reporting, recordkeeping, 
and other compliance requirements are: (1) The elimination of the rule 
requiring each AM, FM, and television broadcast station to maintain a 
local main studio; (2) the elimination of the associated staffing and 
program origination capability requirements; (3) retention of the 
existing requirement that broadcasters maintain a local or toll-free 
telephone number; (4) a requirement that stations maintain any portion 
of their public file that is not part of the online public file at a 
publicly accessible location within the community of license, unless 
the current main studio is grandfathered as a permissible location for 
the station's local public file for the period before completion of the 
station's transition to the online public file because (a) the station 
currently maintains its local public file at a main studio that 
complies with the current main studio rule but is not within the 
station's community of license, or (b) the station has an existing 
waiver of the main studio rule that permits the station to maintain its 
public files at the station's main studio outside the community of 
license. The Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business 
Administration (SBA) did not file any comments in response to the 
proposed rules in this proceeding. Elimination of the existing 
requirements pertaining to the location of the main studio of each AM, 
FM, and television broadcast station, as well as the elimination of 
associated staffing and program origination requirements, will 
eliminate requirements that may be outdated and unnecessarily 
burdensome on all broadcast stations, including small entities. The 
Commission considered whether it should adopt additional requirements 
pertaining to publicizing or staffing the required telephone number or 
responding to time-sensitive or emergency information. While some 
commenters advocated such alternative approaches, the Commission 
concluded that the burdens of any such additional requirements are 
unjustified. Separately, while the Commission could simply adopt the 
requirement pertaining to the location of the public file, instead it 
has taken the alternate approach of providing broadcast stations with 
additional flexibility that will reduce costs by grandfathering certain 
existing studios as a permissible location for the station's local 
public file. In the R&O, the Commission explains its rejection of an 
alternate approach pursuant to which it could only eliminate the main 
studio rule for stations that have fully transitioned all public file 
material to the online public file material, stating that such an 
approach would disadvantage the smaller entities that may be most 
impacted by the costs of complying with the current main studio rule.
    26. This document contains new information collection requirements 
subject to the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA), Public Law 104-
13.\34\ It will be submitted to OMB for review under section 3507(d) of 
the PRA. In addition, we note that pursuant to the Small Business 
Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, we previously sought 
specific comment on how the Commission might further reduce the 
information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer 
than 25 employees.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \34\ See attached Final Rules, revising Sec. Sec.  73.3526(c)(1) 
and 73.3527(c)(1) of our rules to add, ``The applicant, permittee, 
or licensee must provide information regarding the location of the 
file, or the applicable portion of the file, within one business day 
of a request for such information.'' In addition to those new 
information collection requirements, which we will submit to OMB via 
a non-substantive change request, following adoption of this R&O the 
Commission also will submit to the Office of Management and Budget 
(OMB) a notice of discontinuance to reflect the deletion of the main 
studio rule and its associated information collection requirements.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    27. The Commission will send a copy of this R&O in a report to be 
sent to Congress and the Government Accountability Office pursuant to 
the Congressional Review Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).
    28. Accordingly, it is ordered that, pursuant to the authority 
found in sections 4(i), 4(j), 303, 307(b), and 336(f) of the 
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i), 154(j), 303, 
307(b), and 336(f), this Report and Order is hereby adopted.
    29. It is further ordered that parts 1 and 73 of the Commission's 
rules, 47 CFR parts 1 and 73, are amended, and such rule amendments 
shall be effective January 8, 2018, except for Sec. Sec.  73.3526(c)(1) 
and 73.3527(c)(1), which contain new or modified information collection 
requirements, and which shall become effective after the Commission 
publishes a document in the Federal Register announcing OMB approval 
and the relevant effective date.

[[Page 57882]]

    30. It is further ordered that the Commission shall send a copy of 
this Report and Order in a report to be sent to Congress and the 
Government Accountability Office pursuant to the Congressional Review 
Act, see 5 U.S.C. 801(a)(1)(A).

List of Subjects

47 CFR Part 1

    Administrative practice and procedure, Penalties, Radio, Reporting 
and recordkeeping requirements, Television.

47 CFR Part 73

    Radio, Reporting and recordkeeping requirements, Television.

Federal Communications Commission.
Katura Jackson,
Federal Register Liaison Officer, Office of the Secretary.

Final Rules

    For the reasons discussed in the preamble, the Federal 
Communications Commission amends 47 CFR parts 1 and 73 as follows:

PART 1--PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

0
1. The authority citation for part 1 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 151, 154(i), 154(j), 155, 157, 160, 201, 
225, 227, 303, 309, 310, 332, 1403, 1404, 1451, 1452, and 1455.


Sec.  1.80   [Amended]

0
2. In Sec.  1.80, the table titled ``Violations Unique to the Service'' 
is amended by removing the entry for ``Violation of main studio rule.''


Sec.  1.1104   [Amended]

0
3. In Sec.  1.1104, the table is amended as follows:
0
a. Under ``1. Commercial TV Services,'' remove the entry for ``c. Main 
Studio Request'' and redesignate entries ``d'' through ``k'' as entries 
``c'' through ``j;''
0
b. Under ``2. Commercial AM Radio Stations,'' remove the entry for ``c. 
Main Studio Request (per request)'' and redesignate entries ``d'' 
through ``l'' as entries ``c'' through ``k;''
0
c. Under ``3. Commercial FM Radio Stations,'' remove the entry for ``c. 
Main Studio Request (per request)'' and redesignate entries ``d'' 
through ``l'' as entries ``c'' through ``k;'' and
0
d. Under ``8. Class A TV Services,'' remove the entry for ``g. Main 
Studio Request'' and redesignate entry ``h'' as entry ``g.''

PART 73--RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES

0
4. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 309, 310, 334, 336, and 339.


0
5. In Sec.  73.14, revise the definition of ``Equipment performance 
measurements'' to read as follows:


Sec.  73.14   AM broadcast definitions.

* * * * *
    Equipment performance measurements. The measurements performed to 
determine the overall performance characteristics of a broadcast 
transmission system from point of program origination to sampling of 
signal as radiated. (See Sec.  73.1590)
* * * * *


Sec.  73.761   [Amended]

0
6. In Sec.  73.761, remove paragraph (d) and redesignate paragraphs (e) 
through (g) as paragraphs (d) through (f).

0
7. Revise Sec.  73.1125 to read as follows:


Sec.  73.1125   Station telephone number.

    Each AM, FM, TV, and Class A TV broadcast station shall maintain a 
local telephone number in its community of license or a toll-free 
number.

0
8. In Sec.  73.1400, revise paragraph (a)(1)(ii) to read as follows:


Sec.  73.1400   Transmission system monitoring and control.

* * * * *
    (a) * * *
    (1) * * *
    (ii) Remote control of the transmission system by a person at a 
studio or other location. The remote control system must provide 
sufficient transmission system monitoring and control capability so as 
to ensure compliance with Sec.  73.1350.
* * * * *

0
9. Amend Sec.  73.1690 as follows:
0
a. Revise paragraph (c)(8) introductory text;
0
b. Remove paragraph (c)(8)(ii);
0
c. Redesignate paragraphs (c)(8)(iii) through (vi) as paragraphs 
(c)(8)(ii) through (v);
0
d. Remove paragraph (d)(1);
0
e. Redesignate paragraphs (d)(2) and (3) as paragraphs (d)(1) and (2); 
and
0
f. Revise newly redesignated paragraph (d)(1).
    The revisions read as follows.


Sec.  73.1690   Modification of transmission systems.

* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (8) FM commercial stations and FM noncommercial educational 
stations may decrease ERP on a modification of license application 
provided that exhibits are included to demonstrate that all five of the 
following requirements are met:
* * * * *
    (d) * * *
    (1) Commencement of remote control operation pursuant to Sec.  
73.1400.
* * * * *

0
10. In Sec.  73.3526:
0
a. Revise paragraphs (b)(1) and (2);
0
b. In paragraph (b)(3)(i), remove ``the station'' and add in its place 
``an accessible place in the community of license''; and
0
c. Revise paragraphs (b)(3)(ii) and (iii), (c)(1), (c)(2) introductory 
text, and (e)(4).
    The revisions read as follows:


Sec.  73.3526   Local public inspection file of commercial stations.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) For radio licensees temporarily exempt from the online public 
file hosted by the Commission, as discussed in paragraph (b)(2) of this 
section, a hard copy of the public inspection file shall be maintained 
at an accessible place in the community of license, unless the licensee 
elects voluntarily to place the file online as discussed in paragraph 
(b)(2) of this section. An applicant for a new station or change of 
community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the 
proposed community of license. If as of January 8, 2018 a broadcast 
station maintains a hard copy of all or a portion of its public 
inspection file at a main studio that either complied with the 
Commission's main studio rule (47 CFR 73.1125 (2016)) but is not within 
the station's community of license, or was deemed a permissible 
location for the station's public inspection file pursuant to a waiver 
of the main studio rule, and if the station retains that studio, then 
that studio is a permissible location for the station's hard copy 
public inspection file. Any reference in this section to ``an 
accessible place in the community of license'' shall be deemed to 
include such a studio.
    (2)(i) A television station licensee or applicant, and any radio 
station licensee or applicant not temporarily exempt as described in 
this paragraph (b)(2)(i), shall place the contents required by 
paragraph (e) of this section of its public inspection file in the 
online public file hosted by the Commission, with the exception of the 
political file as required by paragraph (e)(6) of this section, as 
discussed in paragraph (b)(3) of this

[[Page 57883]]

section. Any radio station not in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets, and 
any radio station with fewer than five full-time employees, shall 
continue to retain the public inspection file at an accessible place in 
the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of 
this section until March 1, 2018. However, any radio station that is 
not required to place its public inspection file in the online public 
file hosted by the Commission before March 1, 2018 may choose to do so, 
instead of retaining the public inspection file at an accessible place 
in the community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) 
of this section.
    (ii) A station must provide a link to the public inspection file 
hosted on the Commission's Web site from the home page of its own Web 
site, if the station has a Web site, and provide contact information on 
its Web site for a station representative that can assist any person 
with disabilities with issues related to the content of the public 
files. A station also is required to include in the online public file 
the station's address and telephone number, and the email address of 
the station's designated contact for questions about the public file. 
To the extent this section refers to the local public inspection file, 
it refers to the public file of an individual station, which is either 
maintained at an accessible place in the community of license or on the 
Commission's Web site, depending upon where the documents are required 
to be maintained under the Commission's rules.
    (3) * * *
    (ii) Any television station not in the top 50 DMAs, and any station 
not affiliated with one of the top four broadcast networks, regardless 
of the size of the market it serves, shall continue to retain the 
political file at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph 
(b)(1) of this section until July 1, 2014. For these stations, 
effective July 1, 2014, any new political file material shall be placed 
in the online file hosted by the Commission, while the material in the 
political file as of July 1, 2014, if not placed in the Commission's 
Web site, shall continue to be retained at the station in the manner 
discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of its 
retention period. However, any station that is not required to place 
its political file in the online file hosted by the Commission before 
July 1, 2014 may choose to do so, instead of retaining the political 
file at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section. For purposes of this paragraph (b)(3)(ii), the ``manner 
discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section'' refers to maintaining a 
hard copy of the public inspection file at the main studio of the 
station as described in paragraph (b)(1) prior to January 8, 2018. See 
47 CFR 73.3526(b)(1) (2016).
    (iii) Any radio station not in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets, 
and any radio station with fewer than five full-time employees, shall 
continue to retain the political file at an accessible place in the 
community of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of 
this section until March 1, 2018. For these stations, effective March 
1, 2018, any new political file material shall be placed in the online 
public file hosted by the Commission, while the material already 
existing in the political file as of March 1, 2018, if not placed in 
the online public file hosted by the Commission, shall continue to be 
retained at an accessible place in the community of license in the 
manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of 
its retention period. However, any station that is not required to 
place its political file on the Commission's Web site before March 1, 
2018, may choose to do so, instead of retaining the political file at 
an accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed 
in paragraph (b)(1) of this section.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) For any applicant, permittee, or licensee that does not include 
all material described in paragraph (e) of this section in the online 
public file hosted by the Commission, the portion of the file that is 
not included in the online public file shall be available for public 
inspection at any time during regular business hours at an accessible 
place in the community of license. The applicant, permittee, or 
licensee must provide information regarding the location of the file, 
or the applicable portion of the file, within one business day of a 
request for such information. All or part of the file may be maintained 
in a computer database, as long as a computer terminal is made 
available, at the location of the file, to members of the public who 
wish to review the file. Material in the public inspection file shall 
be made available for printing or machine reproduction upon request 
made in person. The applicant, permittee, or licensee may specify the 
location for printing or reproduction, require the requesting party to 
pay the reasonable cost thereof, and may require guarantee of payment 
in advance (e.g., by requiring a deposit, obtaining credit card 
information, or any other reasonable method). Requests for copies shall 
be fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, which generally should 
not exceed 7 days.
    (2) The applicant, permittee, or licensee who maintains its public 
file outside its community of license (see paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section) shall:
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (4) Contour maps. A copy of any service contour maps, submitted 
with any application tendered for filing with the FCC, together with 
any other information in the application showing service contours and/
or transmitter location (State, county, city, street address, or other 
identifying information). These documents shall be retained for as long 
as they reflect current, accurate information regarding the station.
* * * * *

0
11. In Sec.  73.3527, revise paragraphs (b)(1) and (2), (c)(1), (c)(2) 
introductory text, and (e)(3) to read as follows:


Sec.  73.3527   Local public inspection file of noncommercial 
educational stations.

* * * * *
    (b) * * *
    (1) For radio licensees, a hard copy of the public inspection file 
shall be maintained at an accessible place in the community of license 
until March 1, 2018, except that, as discussed in paragraph (b)(2)(ii) 
of this section, any radio station may voluntarily place its public 
inspection file in the online public file hosted by the Commission 
before March 1, 2018, if it chooses to do so, instead of retaining the 
file at an accessible place in the community of license. An applicant 
for a new station or change of community shall maintain its file at an 
accessible place in the proposed community of license. If as of January 
8, 2018 a broadcast station maintains a hard copy of all or a portion 
of its public inspection file at a main studio that either complied 
with the Commission's main studio rule (47 CFR 73.1125 (2016)) but is 
not within the station's community of license, or was deemed a 
permissible location for the station's public inspection file pursuant 
to a waiver of the main studio rule, and if the station retains that 
studio, then that studio is a permissible location for the station's 
hard copy public inspection file. Any reference in this section to ``an 
accessible place in the community of license'' shall be deemed to 
include such a studio.
    (2)(i) A noncommercial educational television station licensee or 
applicant shall place the contents required by paragraph (e) of this 
section of its public inspection file in the online public file

[[Page 57884]]

hosted by the Commission, with the exception of the political file as 
required by paragraph (e)(5) of this section, which may be retained at 
the station in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section 
until July 1, 2014. Effective July 1, 2014, any new political file 
material shall be placed in the online public file hosted by the 
Commission, while the material in the political file as of July 1, 
2014, if not placed in the Commission's online public file, shall 
continue to be retained at the station in the manner discussed in 
paragraph (b)(1) of this section until the end of its retention period. 
However, any noncommercial educational station that is not required to 
place its political file in the online public file hosted by the 
Commission before July 1, 2014 may choose to do so instead of retaining 
the political file at the station in the manner discussed in paragraph 
(b)(1) of this section. For purposes of this paragraph (b)(2)(i), the 
``manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section'' refers to 
maintaining a hard copy of the public inspection file at the main 
studio of the station as described in paragraph (b)(1) prior to January 
8, 2018. See 47 CFR 73.3527(b)(1) (2016).
    (ii) Beginning March 1, 2018, noncommercial educational radio 
station licensees and applicants shall place the contents required by 
paragraph (e) of this section in the online public inspection file 
hosted by the Commission. For these stations, effective March 1, 2018, 
any new political file material shall be placed in the Commission's 
online public file, while the material in the political file as of 
March 1, 2018, if not placed in the Commission's online public file, 
shall continue to be retained at an accessible place in the community 
of license in the manner discussed in paragraph (b)(1) of this section 
until the end of its retention period. However, any radio station that 
is not required to place its public inspection file in the online 
public file hosted by the Commission before March 1, 2018, may choose 
to do so, instead of retaining the public inspection file at an 
accessible place in the community of license in the manner discussed in 
paragraph (b)(1) of this section.?>
    (iii) A station must provide a link to the online public inspection 
file hosted by the Commission from the home page of its own Web site, 
if the station has a Web site, and provide contact information for a 
station representative on its Web site that can assist any person with 
disabilities with issues related to the content of the public files. A 
station also is required to include in the online public file hosted by 
the Commission the station's address and telephone number, and the 
email address of the station's designated contact for questions about 
the public file. To the extent this section refers to the local public 
inspection file, it refers to the public file of an individual station, 
which is either maintained at an accessible place in the community of 
license or on the Commission's Web site, depending upon where the 
documents are required to be maintained under the Commission's rules.
* * * * *
    (c) * * *
    (1) For any applicant, permittee, or licensee that does not include 
all material described in paragraph (e) of this section in the online 
public file hosted by the Commission, the portion of the file that is 
not included in the online public file shall be available for public 
inspection at any time during regular business hours at an accessible 
place in the community of license. The applicant, permittee, or 
licensee must provide information regarding the location of the file, 
or the applicable portion of the file, within one business day of a 
request for such information. All or part of the file may be maintained 
in a computer database, as long as a computer terminal is made 
available, at the location of the file, to members of the public who 
wish to review the file. Material in the public inspection file shall 
be made available for printing or machine reproduction upon request 
made in person. The applicant, permittee, or licensee may specify the 
location for printing or reproduction, require the requesting party to 
pay the reasonable cost thereof, and may require guarantee of payment 
in advance (e.g., by requiring a deposit, obtaining credit card 
information, or any other reasonable method). Requests for copies shall 
be fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, which generally should 
not exceed 7 days.
    (2) The applicant, permittee, or licensee who maintains its public 
file outside its community of license (see paragraph (b)(1) of this 
section) shall:
* * * * *
    (e) * * *
    (3) Contour maps. A copy of any service contour maps, submitted 
with any application tendered for filing with the FCC, together with 
any other information in the application showing service contours and/
or transmitter location (State, county, city, street address, or other 
identifying information). These documents shall be retained for as long 
as they reflect current, accurate information regarding the station.
* * * * *

0
12. In Sec.  73.3538, revise paragraph (b) to read as follows:


Sec.  73.3538   Application to make changes in an existing station.

* * * * *
    (b) An informal application filed in accordance with Sec.  73.3511 
is to be used to obtain authority to modify or discontinue the 
obstruction marking or lighting of the antenna supporting structure 
where that specified on the station authorization either differs from 
that specified in 47 CFR part 17, or is not appropriate for other 
reasons.


Sec.  73.3544   [Amended]

0
13. In Sec.  73.3544, remove paragraph (b)(3) and redesignate paragraph 
(b)(4) as paragraph (b)(3).

0
14. Revise Sec.  73.6000 to read as follows:


Sec.  73.6000   Definitions.

    For the purpose of this subpart, the following definition applies:
    Locally produced programming is programming:
    (1) Produced within the predicted Grade B contour of the station 
broadcasting the program or within the contiguous predicted Grade B 
contours of any of the stations in a commonly owned group; or
    (2) Produced within the predicted DTV noise-limited contour (see 
Sec.  73.622(e)) of a digital Class A station broadcasting the program 
or within the contiguous predicted DTV noise-limited contours of any of 
the digital Class A stations in a commonly owned group.

    Note to Sec.  73.6000: See Report and Order, In the Matter of 
Establishment of a Class A Television Service, MM Docket No. 00-10, 
released April 4, 2000; Memorandum Opinion and Order on 
Reconsideration, In the Matter of Establishment of a Class A 
Television Service, MM Docket No. 00-10, released April 13, 2001; 
Report and Order, In the Matter of Elimination of Main Studio Rule, 
MB Docket No. 17-106, released October 24, 2017.

Alphabetical Index--[Amended]

0
15. In the alphabetical index for part 73, remove the entries for 
``Location, Main studio,'' ``Main studio location,'' ``Station, main 
studio location,'' and ``Studio location, Main.''

[FR Doc. 2017-24982 Filed 12-7-17; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 6712-01-P