FCC Seeks Feedback on Public Inspection File Forms
WASHINGTON: The Federal
Communications Commission is seeking comments on its intent to move TV station public-inspection
files to the web. Specifically, the commission released a Notice of Inquiry regarding
the issues and program lists that TV stations are required to keep in the files,
which are now hard copy. The idea is to replace the hard copy files with a standardized
online disclosure forms, available to the public on the Internet at a database hosted
by the FCC.
“Our goal is to make it easier for members of the public to learn about how television
stations serve their communities, and to make broadcasters more accountable to the
public, by requiring stations to provide easily accessible programming information
in a standardized format,” the
The NOI follows a recent Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from the commission
to move the files online. (
See “FCC To Move TV Public Inspection Files
Online... Again.”) Its first attempt to do so in 2007 was bounced back by
the court because, among other things, petitioners considered the forms “vague,
overly complex and burdensome.” The NOI released today seeks “to address many of
the shortcomings that have been attributed to the form adopted in the 2007 Enhanced
Disclosure Report and Order.”
The 2007 forms included categories for national news, local news, local civic affairs,
local electoral affairs, independently produced programming, local programming,
public service announcements, paid public service announcements, programming for
underserved communities, religious programming, “efforts undertaken to determine
the programming needs of the community, service for the disabled and emergency information.
They were to be filed quarterly for everything aired during the period.
The commission is now considering quarterly reports based on a one-week sample during
the period, and fewer categories. The NOI proposes local civics, local electoral
affairs, PSAs, paid PSAs, independently produced, local, underserved and religious.
A group called the “Public Interest, Public Airwaves Coalition” has proposed a
Those categories, the commission said, would not comprise a requirement to run that
type of programming. The program form would be limited to TV stations at this point.
The matter is considered so complex, that the commission is dedicating a docket
just for comments on the proposed form, Docket No. 00-168. Previous comments will
be incorporated. Comments for the NOI released this week will be due 30 days after
publication in the Federal Register, with replies due 45 days after publication.
~ Deborah D. McAdams