via Ars Technica:

The Federal Communications Commission today eliminated a decades-old rule that required TV and radio stations to maintain studios in the local communities they serve.

The FCC’s Republican majority claims that the change will produce cost savings that broadcasters can use to improve “programming, equipment upgrades, newsgathering, and other services that benefit consumers.” But Democrats say the change will instead make it easier for stations to abandon the cities and towns they serve.

There are 53 companies that own all of the thousands of radio stations in USA that are large enough to matter. There are the local NPR stations and some small AM carriers for sports and talk radio but for the most part, your Kiss-FM, Planet Rock, Hot 97 and overall top 40 stations are owned by just 53 companies the largest of which is Clear Channel / iHeart Radio.

These companies benefit by having a relationship with Warner Brothers for example and paying once for a catalogue of music and having a small team of news-gatherers who feed “morning zoo” shows and DJs hop around the country to different stations in larger and larger markets as they get promoted but the company signing their checks remains the same.

Clear Channel would prefer to have one mega building where everyone resides and simply have a radio tower in each metro area receiving an Internet based feed of the DJ located 500 miles away in a building with 250 other DJs. The overhead goes way down this way and the FCC just made it legal for them to consolidate.

Basically, for terrestrial radio to complete with Sirius XM, they want the same benefit where Sirius operates one building and the satellite feed is accessible anywhere on the planet. This was a crucial step for them.I don’t agree with it though.