WASHINGTON—This is one online program sure to get good viewer ratings among its target audience.
The Federal Communications Commission will conduct a public demo of its expanded Online Public Inspection File, or OPIF, on June 13. The demo will be both in person at FCC HQ and, more important for the industry, available online. (For tech readers who might think this does not matter to them, the Alabama Broadcasters Association Engineering Notebook emailed the following today: “While the public file is not normally a daily task for the engineering department, we suggest that you sit in on the webinar. Since this involves computers and internet ... you know the engineer gets asked how to do anything and everything.”)
The public file of course is one of the ways federal rules most affect the daily work of commercial and NCE radio and TV stations managers. As we’ve reported, the new online system will replace the current Broadcast Public Inspection File process, and the FCC already has made available a beta site so you can try it out.
The FCC says it will exhibit the interface that will be used by broadcast TV and radio stations, cable systems, satellite television and radio systems to file documents. It plans to inform users of the design, layout and content of the OPIF site, discuss how to upload information and files, and present the new Application Program Interface (API) functionalities. The demonstration will also be available online.
The demo will take place Monday, June 13 at 1p.m. EDT at FCC headquarters in Washington. The commission said anyone interested in participating online may do so by visiting https://www.fcc.gov/news-events/events/2016/06/demonstration-expanded-online-public-inspection-file-interface and clicking the link for the appropriate webcast session information.
For radio, the rollout is happening in two phases. As of June 24 commercial stations in the top 50 markets with five or more full-time employees must start using the system (along with SiriusXM and certain cable and DBS providers). They’ll then also have to place existing public file documents online within six months, though existing political file material is exempted. The deadline for others is March 1, 2018; this includes all NCE radio broadcast stations; commercial radio broadcast stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets with fewer than five full-time employees; and all commercial radio broadcast stations in markets below the top 50 or outside all markets (as well as certain cable providers). LPFM stations are exempt from public file rules, and we have heard no indication that this will change.
The law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman noted, “Today’s Public Notice also notes that the website address where the new online public file will be hosted will be https://publicfiles.fcc.gov/. Once a station has transitioned to the online public file, it must provide a link to the new online public inspection file from the home page of the station’s website, if it has one. Full power and Class A television stations that already have such a link will need to update that link to reflect the new website address.” That new link is not yet active.