06.13.2008 01:32 PM
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
NAB tells FCC local service rulemaking unnecessary, potentially harmful

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) told the FCC Wednesday that there is no evidence broadcasters are not adequately serving the interests of their local audiences.

In reply comments filed June 11 regarding proposed FCC rules requiring broadcasters to submit thorough reports demonstrating that their programs serve their local communities, the trade association said the record shows broadcasters “acknowledge and embrace their obligation to serve the public interest every day.”

“Local broadcasters offer valuable local and national news, political, public affairs and other informational programming, vital emergency information and entertainment to viewers and listeners free of charge,” the filing said.

To back up its assertion, the NAB pointed out that during the last two license renewal cycles, less than 1 percent of all renewal applications were challenged with petitions to deny or informal objections. “The commission cannot disregard this concrete, numerical evidence as to viewer and listener satisfaction with their local broadcast stations,” the filing said.

The association told the commission that its proposed rules could have the unintended consequence of diminishing the ability of stations to serve their local markets at current levels. New burdensome mandates would result in stations diverting resources away from programming and connecting with their communities and toward filing compliance reports.

Additionally, the proposed rules do not take into account market size. “What may be appropriate programming for a television station in a top-ten Designated Market Area (DMA) may likely not be appropriate for a television station in DMA #100, let alone a radio station in an unrated rural area,” the filing said.

The NAB also reminded the commission that various provisions of the proposed rules may violate the First Amendment rights of broadcasters. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has held that the FCC “lacks statutory authority to adopt regulations affecting program content without express congressional directive,” the filing said.

To read the NAB reply comments, visit http://www.nab.org/xert/corpcomm/pressrel/releases/061108_FCC_Localism_Replies.pdf.

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