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FCC's O'Rielly: Thank Goodness for Broadcasters

LAS VEGAS--FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly says that broadcasters don't need a mandate to serve their local communities, which is why he suggests he is comfortable with trying to get them out from under regulations he sees as outdated and unnecessary.

O'Rielly, speaking to an NAB 2018 audience Tuesday (April 10), said that broadcasters' secret weapon in an increasingly competitive media marketplace was localism.

He told them his push for deregulation was not because he thought it would somehow free them from the unique community service they provide, but because "I’ve simply met enough of you to know that localism is a value you will continue with or without our mandates."

Not only is localism in broadcasters business interest, he said, but it is ingrained in "every broadcaster I have met."

[Read: FCC Eliminates Main Studio Rule]

"During times of emergencies, it is the local broadcaster that always answers the call," he said. "Moreover, there is no one who highlights an issue in a community, or drives fundraising for a local cause, more than the local broadcaster. Thank goodness for you!"

O'Rielly said the FCC needed to start counting edge providers and others as competitors in broadcasters' media markets, and as a result "downward adjust the burdens we impose."

Historically, the FCC has not included the Web when gauging how much media competition there is in a market. "To argue that online streaming services – or over-the-top (OTT) platforms if you prefer — and social media content should not count as media in this day is to ignore what is happening in the marketplace," he said.

This article originally appeared on Multichannel News.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio WorldTV TechTV FaxThis Week in Consumer ElectronicsVariety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.