FCC Orders New Requirements on Local Programming Info

December 7, 2007
TV Broadcasters didn’t want it to happen, but the FCC has ordered them to provide more information on the local programming they are broadcasting, and to post the information online. Broadcasters will also have to notify their audiences twice each day about the location of the public file.

“This public ‘report card’ will shine a bright light on the activities of television stations across the country,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said.

Republican Commissioner Robert McDowell dissented in part, objecting to the 60-day implementation deadline for the required postings, which he said would impose a high initial burden. He also had “significant” First Amendment concerns about the new form.

“This form is government’s not-so-subtle attempt to exert pressure on stations to air certain types of content,” he said. “I cannot aid and abet even a small step toward such a goal.”

Broadcasters also get a new form, requiring them to list various types of programming, including local civic programming, local electoral affairs programming, public service announcements, and independently produced programming. Broadcasters will also have to provide information about their efforts to ascertain the programming needs of various segments of the community, as well as information regarding closed captioning and video described content.

The new form will replace the current issues/programs list, which required broadcasters to place in their public file on a quarterly basis a list of programs that have provided the station’s most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three-month period. The standardized programming form will be available online and filed with FCC.

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