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FCC Eliminates Hard-Copy Requirement for Rules

Broadcasters have been freed from keeping printed FCC regulations on hand

WASHINGTON — As expected, the FCC has voted to eliminate the requirement that broadcasters and cable operators keep paper copies of the FCC’s regulations on hand, the latest in a series of actions to whack away at regulations FCC chair Ajit Pai has said are part of a regulatory underbrush allowed to grow for too long.

Licensees will still be required to know the rules; they just don’t have to kill trees to confirm that knowledge.

The paper copy requirement had applied to “to low power TV, TV and FM translators, TV and FM booster stations, cable television relay station (CARS) licensees, and certain cable operators.”

A vote was scheduled for the Feb. 22 public meeting, but was voted on circulation Feb. 20 and removed from the agenda for the meeting.

The FCC gave the National Association of Broadcasters some love in the release announcing the adoption of the change. “We agree with NAB that, given licensees’ ability today to immediately access FCC rules via the Internet, requiring broadcasters to retain hard copies of the rules is no longer necessary,” said the order.

But NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, also got a shout-out. The FCC is eliminating the requirement that cable operators keep a paper copy of the EAS Operating Handbook as well as the cable-specific portions of the FCC rules. “We agree with NCTA that this ‘requirement wastes resources and is unjustified today given that the materials are readily available for free to anyone with access to the Internet,'” the order said.