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FCC Reconsidering Noncom Ownership Rules Petitions

Pai overturns Wheeler policy that required special information for noncommercial stations

In case you hadn’t heard, there’s new management at the FCC as Commissioner Ajit Pai has taken over the role of chairman of the commission from Tom Wheeler, and with it a number of policies are getting a second look.

One example of that is the decision by the newly led commission to overturn a previous decision to deny Petitions for Reconsideration of noncommercial broadcasters to update their broadcast ownership reporting requirements.

Pillsbury’s Lauren Lynch Flick examines that issue in a new CommLawCenter commentary, “FCC’s Media Bureau Rescinds Ruling on New Noncom Ownership Reporting Rules.”

Under Wheeler, all stations were being asked to submit more personal information for “owners,” including full Social Security numbers or a special Restricted Use Federal Registration Number, in order to improve tracking of ownership reporting forms. A third option was to use a Special Use Federal Registration Number (SUFRN), but that could possibly opened enforcement actions for noncompliance, the FCC warned.

Many noncommercial stations petitioned the FCC that providing such information was unduly burdensome, and Pai, then a commissioner under Wheeler, agreed with them. However, the petitions that were filed were denied.

But, now with Pai leading the commission, the FCC issued a six-sentence order taking back the rejections and changing the petitions status to “pending.”

For more analysis, read Flick’s commentary.