FCC commissioner signals approval for online files


Mignon ClyburnIn a speech Catholic University’s 2012 Telecommunications Symposium, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn mentioned the upcoming agenda plank concerning posting broadcast television public files online. She signaled support for the measure but acknowledged that “…the devil is in the details.”

“By the end of this month, we will be ruling on an item that has drawn much attention from a number of people,” said Clyburn. “Our consideration of broadcast disclosure requirements has generated much buzz over the past year, and it is culminating in a document that is currently under review.”

Clyburn continued, “We’re considering whether to put on the web, the public files currently kept by broadcasters inside of their stations, and if it decided that it should be done, we must decide how much information should be disclosed, and how should broadcasters make such disclosures. I mentioned in my statement when we passed the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on this item, that ‘public’ files should serve their named purpose, and the best way to ensure that, is to meet the public as forthrightly and openly as possible – and the new meeting place for that is most certainly the Internet.”

“In reviewing the comments on this proceeding, I am gratified that there is widespread consensus on this current reality, but as always, the proverbial devil is in the details,” she added. “I am aware of the many concerns of the broadcasters, and feel compelled to reiterate that a transition to a digital system needs to be handled carefully, and in a manner sensitive to the capacities of differently situated broadcasters. My staff and I will have a number of conversations with all interested parties, and I look forward to the benefits that will result from these exchanges.”

RBR-TVBR observation: This whole thing seems like a no-brainer, and the only problem with that assessment is that it isn’t. Just like the enhanced disclosure ownership Form 323 proceeding, it is a lot more complicated than it might seem at face value.

In that proceeding, the complications were such that actual implementation was delayed time and again.

We believe the chances of the FCC getting online public filing right on the first try are slim and none, and suspect that what the 4/27/12 Open Meeting will reveal is where the starting point is going to be. We’d be ready to start working on comments immediately.

This goes for radio broadcasters as well as television broadcasters. Although TV is in the docket right now, radio does not figure to be far behind.