FCC to Consider Scrapping License Posting Rules

1930s-era rule requires broadcasters to physically post broadcast licenses and other authorizations
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It may be time for the corkboard to come down.

The Federal Communications Commission is looking into whether it should eliminate rules that require broadcasters to post broadcast licenses and other station info in specific locations in its facility. At its monthly Open Meeting on May 10, the commission launched a proceeding to consider eliminating various rules that require the maintenance and posting of those details. 

Harken back 88 years ago; that was when the commission originally adopted broadcast license posting rules. Over time, these rules were expanded to include new ways of posting information. Since the majority of information contained on these licenses is now available in the commission’s electronic databases, the commission is asking through a notice of proposed rulemaking whether it’s necessary for broadcast licenses and related authorizations to continue to be physically posted.

“How is this rule serving the public?” asked Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, adding that many times broadcaster licenses and authorizations are posted out of public view due to the need to secure premises and promote safety. “I truly believe that this proceeding will confirm that this rule should be set into an appropriate waste bin.”

Perhaps the motivation of the Federal Radio Commission (the predecessor to the FCC) in 1930 was to ensure that station authorizations, ownership and contact information would be readily available to the commission and the public, said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said. “But today, the vast majority of this information is easily accessible via the commission’s electronic databases,” he said. “Moreover, in some cases, you can’t see posted licenses even if you want to; the transmitter sites at which stations are required to post them aren’t physically accessible to or viewable by the public.

“As a result, I’m skeptical that our license posting rules currently serve any useful purpose, and look forward to reviewing comments from stakeholders discussing whether they should be eliminated,” Pai said.

Comments on the notice can be left in the FCC ECFS database using Media Bureau Docket 17-105 or 18-121.

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