Notice of Inquiry seeks comment replacement form for issues/programs list

The FCC adopted a Notice of Inquiry Nov. 10 on the proposed replacement of the issues/programs list TV stations are required to have in their public file with a standardized disclosure form that would be available to the public online.

The goal of the commission is to make it easier for the public to inspect the disclosure and to make broadcasters more accountable to the public by making the information easily accessible in a standardized form, the notice said. The standardized form will also make it easier for the commission and researchers to study how broadcasters respond to the needs of their local communities, it said.

The FCC on Oct. 27 vacated a 2007 Report and Order laying out how television broadcasters were to inform the public on how they serve their communities. The Notice of Inquiry proposes requiring broadcasters to report on programming using a sample-based methodology. The commission is asking for comment on the use of a more limited number of reporting categories.

Among the issues on which the commission seeks comments are:
how to construct a sample week or weeks during which programming would be reported;
how to implement a random sample;
are there distortions to the average programming day — such as sweeps — that should be excluded;
would it be less burdensome to broadcasters to compile the information one or more full weeks per quarter;
whether broadcasters should be given advanced notice before the reporting period;
the burden imposed on broadcasters to report on all local electoral affairs programming 45 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election;
the reporting requirements on local news, such as limiting the definition of such news to locally produced programming pertaining to issues impacting the broadcaster’s community of license;
the reporting requirements for civic and governmental affairs, such as the definition that should be used for such programming;
reporting of local electoral affairs and how they should be defined; and
the reporting of closed captioning and video description services.

Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

The deadline for reply comments is 45 days after such publication.