NAB, APTS filings object to proposed FCC recording requirement

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Association of Public Television Stations have separately filed comments with the FCC objecting to a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would require television broadcasters to record their broadcasts and keep them for 60 to 90 days.

The commission is considering such rules in the wake of the increased focus of public attention on broadcast indecency following the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake incident at this year’s Super Bowl.

In its filing with the commission, the NAB called any requirement to force broadcasters to record their programs “unnecessary, vastly overbroad and burdensome.” The FCC dismisses about one percent of indecency cases for failure to provide information, such as tapes of alleged indecency, the NAB filing said.

Additionally, imposing a must-record rule is too sweeping and inherently unfair because so few television and radio stations receive a notice of forfeiture for broadcasting indecent material. Since 2002, one TV station and “a small fraction of one percent” of radio stations have received such a notice, the filing said.

The NAB also pointed out that requiring stations to record their broadcasts would place a burdensome expense on stations for personnel and equipment to comply with such a regulation and that the courts would likely strike down such a rule because it “would fail intermediate First Amendment scrutiny.”

For its part, the APTS filing reminded the commission that the record of public broadcasters is “unblemished and second to none” regarding indecency. Additionally, the association told the commission that such a requirement would threaten the editorial independence of public broadcasters and saddle them with an unnecessary financial burden.

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