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Tell the FCC How You View Online Public File Regs

Comment deadlines now set for March, April

Deadlines have been set for public comments to be filed to the FCC regarding extending the commission’s online public file rules to broadcast and satellite radio, cable and satellite TV.

In 2012, the commission adopted online public file rules for broadcast television stations that required them to post public file documents to a central, FCC-hosted online database rather than maintaining the files locally at their main studios. Now that television broadcasters have completed their transition to the online file, the commission wants to expand that requirement to other media categories.

The goal is improved public access to public inspection files and especially political advertising documents, the commission explains.

Last summer, the commission sought input on the idea, which morphed into a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in December.

We reported that most radio stations told the FCC that hardly anyone ever walks into a station asking to see the public file. Most stations said that ultimately, placing documents online benefits only national advocacy groups that seek to more easily pressure stations at license renewal time. Noncommercial stations asked to be exempt from the online requirement in order to protect donor information and told the commission that their political public files don’t contain information about political ad spending or ad rates.

NAB didn’t fight the proposal, but said the agency should first beef up its IT architecture to prepare for the onslaught of additional uploaded files.

Comments to the FCC (MB Docket No. 14–127) are due March 16 and replies on April 14.