Pubcasters Say Kill the Hourly ID

FCC modernization suggestions from NPR, PBS and others
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“Stations should be permitted to identify themselves on-air in a manner that makes the most sense to the local station.”

That’s one among several recommendations that four national public broadcasting organizations made in comments to the Federal Communications Commission’s public notice on modernizing media regulations (MB Docket No. 17-105).

National Public Radio, America’s Public Television Stations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Public Broadcasting Service are encouraging the FCC to review, update and/or eliminate rules based on pubcasters’ “limited financial resources, evolving community needs and changing technology.”

In addition to urging the FCC to eliminate daily and hourly station identification requirements, the pubcasters suggested that the commission change a few rules that it sees as redundant due to other regulations.

First, they write that “the commission should modify its rule [73.1207 – Rebroadcasts] to explicitly permit ‘fair use’ of station broadcast programs,” reflecting exceptions outlined in the Copyright Act.

Also, the pubcasters “fully [endorse] the concept and reality of equal employment opportunity” outlined in 73.2080, but note “employment practices are subject to oversight and enforcement elsewhere at the Federal level, by all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and at the local level in many cases.” They recommend “the rule could be retained, but its burdens at least minimized by reducing it to a non-discrimination prohibition and a general obligation to recruit for full time job vacancies, and by reducing required EEO filings to only those that would accompany license renewal applications.”

They also suggested the elimination of the rule prohibiting broadcast of lottery information be eliminated (since 18 U.S.C. § 1304 was declared unconstitutional as applied to lawful gambling operations by the Supreme Court in 1999); updates to the rule governing obscene and indecent material; and revisit paperwork requirements to streamline recordkeeping and logging mandates.

They deem the designation of a chief operator and the posting of a station license at the transmitter as antiquated rules.

They also write that the commission should “take a wholesale fresh look at the specific content requirements of the public inspection file that are applicable to NCE stations” and consider why this information should be uploaded by broadcasters, as opposed to the FCC itself making documents and information about a station available for public view. Specifically, they’d like the commission to do away with program lists.

Similarly, because the FCC rarely examines any documents covered by 73.3613 and 73.1226(c), they suggest that the rule should only require the filing of such documents when required for determination on a specific matter.

The pubcasters point out that political files are not relevant to NCE stations due to Congress’ amendment exempting public stations from the “reasonable access” requirements and thus should be eliminated.

With the possible exception of license renewal applications, which could be shared online, they can’t see a reason why local public notice of applications should be required.

And in light of recent changes, they suggest ownership reports be limited to every four years or filed only at license renewal time.

Additionally, the comments offered suggestions for several TV-specific changes.

Reply comments are due Aug. 4. 

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