This Time, Some FMs May Get Paper Rule Relief

The paperwork reduction moves continue at FCC
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The paperwork reduction moves continue at FCC

On its ongoing march to “modernize” media rules and (perhaps save some trees along the way), the Federal Communications Commission plans to cut another paper elimination rule — this time one that impacts FM translator and FM booster stations.

The proposed rulemaking would eliminate the requirement that certain media groups maintain paper copies of the FCC’s regulations. Today, the rules require certain entities — including low-power TV, TV and FM translator, TV and FM booster stations as well as cable relay and some cable operators — to maintain these paper copies to ensure they stay familiar with the rules governing their operations.

The suggestion to scrap these rules was met with unanimous support, the commission said. One reason is due to the ease in which the commission’s rules can be accessed over the internet. But be clear, the FCC said in its fact sheet on the proposed changes: these groups still have to be familiar with the rules contained in the rulebooks.

The commission plans to address the issue at its February Open Meeting on Feb. 22.

And more media modernization efforts may be on the way. In a blog released three days after the rulemaking announcement, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly addressed whether it was necessary to continue printing hard-copies of the FCC Record. The books compile decisions, reports, public notices and other documents taken each year by the FCC. Each issue costs about $65, and the 2016 version rounded out to 17 volumes with 14,129 pages.

“If Encyclopedia Britannica can eliminate paper versions of their works in 2012, why can’t the FCC do the same for its paper copies in 2018?” O’Rielly said.