FCC Eliminates Hard Copy Rules

WASHINGTON—TV and radio broadcasters can go fully digital with FCC regulations after the Commission made the ruling to eliminate the requirement for broadcast and cable entities to maintain paper copies of the Code of Federal Regulations. The FCC, which officially adopted the new practice on Feb. 20, classifies this decision as part of its initiative to modernize media regulations.

This new ruling applies to low power TV, TV and FM translators, TV and FM booster stations, cable television relay station licensees and certain cable operators. Specifically, LPTV, TV translators and TV booster stations are no longer required to maintain a current copy of Volume I and Volume III of the FCC rules following the elimination of Section 74.769 of FCC rules. The Commission also adopted the proposal to eliminate Section 74.129, which required licensees and permittees of FM translator and FM booster stations to maintain current copies of Volume I (Parts 0, 1, 2 and 17) and Volume III (Parts 73 and 74).

“The Commission adopted these requirements more than 40 years ago as part of its regulation of then recently established broadcast translator services,” the FCC’s official order reads. “ We agree with NAB that, ‘given licensees’ ability today to immediately access FCC rules via the internet, requiring broadcasters to retain hard copies of the rules is no longer necessary.”

The electronic version of the CFR is said to be more up to date than the printed version, which is published only once a year. The FCC also claims that removing these requirements will help small broadcasters by cutting unnecessary costs.

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The FCC has also eliminated Section 76.1714(a), which required cable operators serving 1,000 or more subscribers to maintain a current copy of Part 76 of the rules and an EAS Operating handbook if subject to EAS rules in Part 11. The requirement for keeping an EAS handbook onsite was seen as a duplicate of Section 11.15, which requires a copy of the handbook “be located at normal duty positions or EAS equipment locations when an operator is required to be on duty and be immediately available to staff responsible for authenticating messages and initiating actions.”

Sections 76.1714(c) and 78.67 on the requirement that CARS licensees maintain a current copy of Part 78 of the rules and Part 17 have also been eliminated due to their availability on the internet.

The FCC also took note to stress that these actions do not eliminate the portions of Section 74.769, 74.1269, 76.1714 and 78.67 that require broadcast and cable entities to be familiar with their governing rules.