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U.S. agency scraps unused telegraph regulations in Trump rules purge

WASHINGTON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The U.S. government is scrapping rules on telegraphs even though carriers no longer exist, part of the Trump administration's effort to slash regulations, the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.

The last Western Union telegram in the United States was sent in 2006 and the commission had stopped enforcing the rules in 2013. The last major telegram service worldwide ended in India in 2013.

The FCC said in a notice it was removing "outmoded regulations" on telegraphs effective in November to "further our goals of reducing regulatory burdens, eliminating unnecessary rule provisions, and making the agency as efficient and effective as possible."

There are close to 1,000 pages of FCC media regulations alone.

AT&T Inc, originally known as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, in 2013 lamented the FCC's failure to formally stop enforcing some telegraph rules.

"Regulations have a tendency to persist long after they outlived any usefulness and it takes real focus and effort to ultimately remove them from the books even when everyone agrees that it is the common sense thing to do," the company said.

The telegraph was demonstrated in 1838 in New Jersey and by the 1860s was widely used in the United States, marking the first communication that traveled faster than a physical message. Telegrams were popular in the 1920s in part because they cost less than a long-distance phone call.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in May he wanted to remove outdated rules, striking irrelevant regulations as "just a matter of good housekeeping" and others that stand "in the way of innovation and investment that would benefit consumers."

Also in May, the FCC voted to start a "comprehensive review" of media regulations.

The FCC meets next week to vote to end a 1939 requirement that each AM, FM, and television broadcast station maintain a main studio located in or near its community of license. The rule was to "ensure that stations would be accessible and responsive to their communities. However, a local main studio is no longer needed to fulfill these purposes," the FCC said. (Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant McCool)