Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
Localism also on the FCC agenda

In addition to its major items on last week’s FCC meeting, the commissioners also dealt with the issues of broadcast localism and ownership my minorities.

Most importantly, the localism issues established no final rules. Broadcasters must demonstrate their local programming service to the community at renewal time, including forming community advisory boards to help them determine programming of local import.

FCC chairman Kevin Martin said that broadcasters must air a certain amount of local programming, which he felt is already being done. He said that broadcasters need to simply do better than are now in reporting what they already doing.

Democrats Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein generally supported the localism initiatives but said they wished they had been final rules rather than proposals. They worried that the final rules might be watered down and were concerned about the commission’s willingness to enforce them.

“We need to put meat in the sandwich we deliver,” Adelstein said. “Why not a final order,” Copps added, “rather than just good ideas?” He said he was skeptical but would work with the chairman to “try to move these things along.”

On the minority issues, the commission passed a package of initiatives that would make it easier for small businesses and, by extension, women and minorities, to own broadcast stations. The initiatives will modify current FCC rules to make it easier to sell stations and permits to build stations to small businesses as defined by the Small Business Administration.

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