This is one in a series of
Radio World articles about proposals for changes to FCC media rules.
Ask any radio broadcaster how the FCC can make life
easier, and you’ll probably get plenty of good suggestions.
large U.S. radio entities — including the largest one, iHeart, as well as an
influential public broadcaster, New York Public Radio — want the FCC to change
a whole bunch of familiar management and technical rules under which
broadcasters have operated for years. Their proposals touch on a range of
issues from station IDs and ownership reports to AM proofs and single-sideband
FM stereo carriers.
The companies that filed these joint
comments are Alpha Media, Emmis Communications, iHeartMedia, Liberman Broadcasting,
New York Public Radio, and Urban One, the former Radio One.
were among companies responding to an FCC call for ways to “modernize” media
rules, and they eagerly embraced an opportunity to change restrictions that they
think are “outdated, unnecessary, or unduly
burdensome.” Targets include technical
rules that are “ripe for repeal or modernization to reflect the realities of modern
broadcast technology and the manner in which stations operate today.”
They said the FCC
should do the following, extracted and summarized from their filing by Radio
the newspaper publication requirement for local public notices, substitute an
online posting version and change the on-air requirement so a broadcaster can just
announce the type of application and then point listeners to a website.
away with required mid-term EEO reports, Form 397, because EEO reports are now
in online public files.
- Drop the requirement
that you have to post the station license at your principal
control point. Most stations, they say, use dial-up or IP remote control
systems and can be managed from a smartphone or PC at any location. Licenses
are in public databases, they argue; so the FCC should require stations only to
produce a copy upon request.
- Simplify rules for ownership reports (Form
323).They’re glad the FCC is transitioning from the familiar
CDBS to a new Licensing and Management System;
but they asked the FCC to address problems in its Form 323 interface and to make
sure the new system works right before December.
- Kill the rule
that stations must submit ownership reports every two years; require reports only
when there’s a new construction permit or transaction that needs FCC approval. Otherwise,
at least cut back the cycle to every four years or longer.
that issues/program lists be placed in the public file on an annual basis,
rather than quarterly, and …
- … permit broadcasters to provide only a brief summary of issues
covered plus a list of programs, instead of all the details about date, time and
stations make their station IDs periodically instead of near the top of the
hour, to avoid audio clutter and interruptions of long-form programming.
stations discretion in the format of their station IDs as long as they include call
letters or a locally recognized “brand or moniker.”
alternative means of station ID other than “aural,” such as Radio Broadcast
Data System Program Information Code or a RadioText message that includes a
station’s call letters and community of license on an FM receiver, or digital
Program Associated Data.
- Eliminate the EEO
language that broadcasters must disseminate
full-time vacancy notifications to “entitled sources.”
The broadcasters told the FCC most stations “find very
little return on the significant investment in time and resources it takes to
notify these sources of their open positions.” Job vacancy info is readily available
online now, they said (while emphasizing that they “vigorously support” the
commission’s overall EEO rules).
- Eliminate the practice of
placing a “hold” on applications when there’s a pending enforcement complaint or
investigation, with certain limitations.
- Allow stations with experimental broadcast
licenses to ask for renewals instead of facing a hard five-year limit, which the
companies believe can force broadcasters to end experiments prematurely.
or relax the Method of Moments proof rules for AM directional stations. The
rules require them to recertify at least every 24 months; this is very costly,
the companies said, and unfair compared to stations using the conventional
method. Also about MoM …
- … If a recertification requirement is
kept, the FCC should limit the obligation, perhaps by requiring periodic
antenna monitor recalibration and re-measurement of reference points, but with
full recertification mandated only if there is substantial drift in reference
points or if a recalibrated monitor reads out of tolerance. At minimum, the FCC
should reduce the frequency of full recertification measurements, requiring them
within 24 months before license renewal filing.
- Let FM stations
that use the “indirect power determination” method rely on an efficiency factor
that is automatically generated by their transmitter. The current rules require
them to use a factor based on prior measurements or data from the manufacturer.
stations to use single-sideband FM stereophonic carriers without further
authorization. Experiments to date, they say, indicate that “many stations have
successfully used such carriers without causing interference or other issues
for other stations.”
- Don’t require equipment performance
measurements annually. Reduce
it to three years, if any. Require equipment measurement only when installing a
new or replacement main transmitteror
replacing an audio processor intended to provide audio bandwidth limitation. Rely
on the complaint process in cases of interference from unstable transmitters.
digital RPU operations in the 450 and 455 MHz bands, as well as digital
emissions for two-way radio systems.
joint filing is only one of four or five dozen that the FCC has received so
far. Radio World will continue to provide a sampler of filings.