In the event of an expanded online public file requirement, “every broadcast station will be subjected to every nutcase in America to consistently cause broadcast stations problems and endless paperwork.”
That’s the opinion of Ed DeLaHunt, president and GM of Minnesota-based DeLaHunt Broadcasting, who wrote to the FCC. An effort to expand such obligations beyond TV to radio as well as to cable and satellite companies is advancing at the commission, which recently opened a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.
DeLaHunt said local public files provide a station’s community opportunity to express their concerns. “It is imperative that the local listeners of any broadcast facility have a chance for input. [But] a worldwide challenge to broadcast stations will, once again, cause the chilling of First Amendment Rights. Stations will once again crawl back in their shells and vigorous debate will disappear on many issues,” he said.
“The commission also will open itself up for an avalanche of issues to deal with; just because modern technology makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy does not necessarily mean it is a good idea,” he concludes, “and in this case, online public file is a bad idea.”
As RW reported last month, the commission in its NPRM noted that small stations have limited resources and proposed to minimize the effort involved. But it rejected an argument made by some broadcasters that the change only benefits national advocacy groups.
NAB also had urged the commission to beef up its electronic infrastructure before extending the requirements to radio and the other entities.
The FCC asked for input on improving the organization of the public file, and also whether it should permanently exclude NCE stations or any station with less than five full-time employees, among other questions.
Comments are to MB Docket 14-127.
Read a summary of previously filed comments.