FCC considers mandatory program recording

July 9, 2004

Continuing its election year indecency crusade, the FCC voted 4-1 last week to consider a new regulation that would require broadcasters to keep recordings of their broadcast programs for up to 90 days. If adopted, the rule could cost stations thousands of dollars in tape and duplication costs.

The mandatory logging requirement, if enacted, is part of the commission’s continuing effort to rid the broadcast airwaves of content that the FCC deems indecent. Having a record of programming would help validate viewer complaints about incidents of indecency. Without such program logs, it is up to viewers to provide evidence of possible violations.

David Solomon, head of the FCC’s enforcement bureau, said the proposal is necessary because the commission wants to have a factual record when it makes decisions on violations.

In its order, the FCC asked for comments on requiring broadcasters to keep recordings for 60 or 90 days. It also wants to know how much the new rule would cost broadcasters and whether the rule might violate the First Amendment.

Another variation is whether the recordings be required only between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., when indecent broadcasts are prohibited, or on a 24-hour basis.

FCC commissioners suggested recordings could also be used to monitor compliance with the limits on advertising during children’s programming and to verify the required identification of commercial sponsors.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov.

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