All quiet on the FCC front


FCCThe first Open Meeting on the FCC calendar for 2013 will be held Thursday 1/31, the last day possible. But for broadcasters, it doesn’t really matter which day it’s being held, because there is nothing of direct interest on the agenda.

Both of the items on the agenda involve the intersection of spectrum policy and health care, the second one directly.

From the FCC, here are the two items that will be addressed:

* Expanding Opportunities for Spectrum Experimentation Report and Order: The Commission will consider a Report and Order to revise and streamline its rules to modernize the Experimental Radio Service by creating a more flexible environment to accelerate innovation and promote the introduction of new products, including medical devices, to the marketplace.

* Expanding Broadband Access and Spectrum Availability for Healthcare: The Commission will hear a presentation on the agency’s ongoing work to expand broadband access and spectrum availability for health care uses.

RBR-TVBR observation: Of course, this doesn’t mean that the FCC will be silent regarding broadcast matters. It was widely believed toward the end of 2012 that the Quadrennial Review would be dispensed with via the circulation route, under which each commissioner votes in the comfort and privacy of their own 8th Floor office – the matter did not appear on the agenda of the December meeting.

The Quadrennial was kicked forward to allow time for interested parties to comment on diversity issues in the wake of new statistics released by the FCC during the same time frame.

Many of the organizations who had thoughts to share on the matter have made them public. By and large, there is a strong call for the FCC to act on diversity – and particularly on some 47 proposals already pending.

Some say that unrelated aspects of the Quadrennial should be dealt with soon; others say there are no unrelated aspects of the Quadrennial and nothing should be done until the diversity issue is dealt with.

So the bottom line is that the Quadrennial could still be handled on circulation, or it could show up on a future FCC agenda – and perhaps could even be added to the January agenda. Stay tuned.