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Online public file rules begin Aug. 2; FCC to demo system

The recent FCC order changing its rules to require TV broadcasters to make their public files available online via a commission-hosted website will become effective Aug. 2, the FCC said last week.

Beginning Aug. 2, broadcasters must begin posting any new documents online that are added to their public file. They will have six months from the August kickoff to upload existing documents that were part of their public file prior to Aug. 2. Posting historical documents is not required with respect to broadcasters' political files. Only new political file documents — those generated on or after Aug. 2 — must be uploaded.

The new rules related to political filings also exclude for the time being small broadcasters, those not affiliated with the top four networks in the top 50 markets. These broadcasters are not required to begin filing political documents online until July 1, 2014.

The FCC adopted the new online public inspection file requirement in a Report and Order adopted on April 27. Prior to the order, broadcasters kept their public files on paper as part of their obligation to disclose community-relevant documents.

To review those documents, the public was required to visit a TV station and ask to see its public file. The order updates the existing disclosure procedures to move the public file from paper to the Internet.

The FCC has scheduled a public demonstration of the database it has developed to host the public inspection files of TV broadcasters. According to a commission announcement, the demo will include an explanation of the interface to be used by stations to file documents.

The demonstration will be held July 17 at 10 a.m. EDT in the Commission Meeting Room at FCC Headquarters in Washington, D.C. The demo will be streamed online. The meeting and video stream are open to the public.