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NAB, MMTC Call for More Deregulation

Groups press FCC to eliminate newspaper notice requirement for applications

At least two industry groups stand behind a move to relax rules on how and where broadcasters have to tell the public about their filing plans.

The National Association of Broadcasters and the Multicultural Media, Telecom and Internet Council both called on the Federal Communications Commission to continue to amend certain media modernization rules — particularly ones that impact the requirements on broadcasters for filing public notices about applications.

In a Dec. 29 filing, the NAB called on the commission to eliminate public notice requirements — or at least streamline them — that pertain to how broadcasters tell the public about applications it plans to file. As it now stands, Section 73.3580 of the FCC Rules requires broadcasters to submit public notices to newspapers depending on the type of broadcast licensee and type of application it is filing.

In responding to the FCC’s call for comments on the issue, the NAB said that the rules are not only complex but wholly unnecessary.

“The information required to be disclosed is already widely available on the internet,” the NAB said. The organization added that multiple commission decisions reflect a transformation in how Americans obtain information and how they interact with both their local broadcast stations. Take as an example, the NAB said, the recent elimination of the paper correspondence rule and transition of broadcaster public files to an online format.

Now, it’s time to update notice requirements, the NAB said. This is consistent with the FCC’s goal of modernizing its own rules to reflect consumers’ use of the internet, the NAB argued.

Even if the FCC chooses not to eliminate the rule outright, it should modify it, the NAB said. Licensees should be able to make on-air announcements to tell listeners where they can access info on a particular filing, the organization said.

“Such an approach would reduce unnecessary burdens on broadcasters and provide information to the public in a manner that is more easily consumed and understood,” the NAB said.

The MMTC called for similar revisions, saying the current publication rule is outdated and incompatible with modern methods of communication.

Instead of requiring stations to submit notices to a newspaper, the MMTC said, the FCC should allow stations to use on-air notices or, depending on the length of the notice, to direct listeners and viewers to the station’s website.

Elimination of this rule will help radio in particular, said David Honig, president emeritus and senior advisor for the MMTC, in the filing. “The elimination of the publication rule will improve the net revenues of all stations deemed to be small entities. According to the criteria of the Small Business Association approximately 98% of radio stations would benefit from this deregulation,” the MMTC said.

Broadcasters should be able to post public notices of this kind on a station’s website, the MMTC said. “This rule change would be in line with the commission’s recent declaratory ruling allowing broadcasters to place job postings online in order to meet the wide dissemination requirement of the broadcast EEO rules,” the group said.

Other groups have filed similar filings, including NextStar Broadcasting, a group of public broadcasters, and a group of commercial broadcasters. That last group (which includes Meredith Corp. Raycom Media and Graham Media Group) also noted that “cable, satellite and telecommunications competitors do not have similar public notice requirements.”