The FCC would like to move broadcast public files out of file cabinets in a dusty back room somewhere inside the building used by broadcasters and put them online where anybody who so desires can have easy 24/7 access to them. They will take the issue up at the next Open Meeting scheduled for Friday 4/27/12.
The meeting will begin at 11AM, and features a crowded agenda.
In addition to the public file plank, there two other items of interest to broadcasters – one will consider allowing noncoms to stage fund-raisers for the benefit of other noncoms, and the other will look at setting up the mechanism for television channels to agree to channel-sharing arrangements in advance of incentive auctions in the television spectrum band.
The public file issue is the big one for broadcasters, however, and the sticking point is the possibility that detailed information regarding political buys may be ordered online. Television broadcasters have protested both because it puts them at a disadvantage with their competitors, and because the anticipated cost of compliance is more expensive than the FCC seems to be estimating.
Although radio stations are not involved in the current item, they are expected to be next in line for whatever TV gets.
From the FCC, here is the full agenda:
* 1 CONSUMER AND GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS TITLE: Empowering Consumers to Prevent and Detect Billing for Unauthorized Charges (“Cramming”) (CG Docket No. 11-116); Consumer Information and Disclosure (CG Docket No. 09-158) and Truth-in-Billing and Billing Format (CC Docket No. 98-170)
SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that protects consumers by adopting and proposing additional rules to help consumers prevent and detect the unlawful and fraudulent placement of unauthorized charges on their telephone bills.
* 2 MEDIA TITLE: Noncommercial Educational Station Fundraising for Third-Party Non-Profit Organizations
SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking inviting comment on whether to allow noncommercial educational broadcast stations to conduct on-air fundraising activities that interrupt regular programming for the benefit of third-party non-profit organizations.
* 3 MEDIA TITLE: Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public Interest Obligations (MM Docket No. 00-168) and Extension of the Filing Requirement for Children’s Television Programming Report (FCC Form 398) (MM Docket No. 00-44)
SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Second Report and Order that increases transparency and improves public access to community-relevant information by moving the television broadcast station public file from paper to the internet.
* 4 MEDIA AND OFFICE OF ENGINEERING AND TECHNOLOGY TITLE: Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF (ET Docket No. 10-235)
SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Report and Order establishing a regulatory framework for channel sharing among television licensees in connection with an incentive auction of spectrum.
* 5 WIRELINE COMETITION TITLE: Universal Service Contribution Methodology (WC Docket No. 06-122) and A National Broadband Plan for Our Future (GN Docket No. 09-51)
SUMMARY: The Commission will consider a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on proposals to reform and modernize how Universal Service Fund contributions are assessed and recovered.
RBR-TVBR observation: By nearly all accounts, the major sticking point in this proceeding will be how and where political advertising is reported. After repeatedly tackling agendas with little of interest to broadcasters, the FCC has definitely gotten everybody’s interest this time around.
We have frequently pointed out that more often than not the lack of a broadcast item on the agenda is a good thing – and this one proves our point.