The Federal Communications Commission has amended its public inspection file rules to eliminate the correspondence file that previously mandated radio and television stations keep a physical copy of emails and letters they received.
Now the communications law community is commenting about the change’s impact on broadcasters.
First — and perhaps most importantly — stations shouldn’t start burning those files or locking their doors.
Scott R. Flick, a partner at DC law firm Pillsbury, writes: “The change won’t go into effect immediately. Typically, it takes about two months after the text of an adopted order appears in the Federal Register for a new rule to go into effect, and if any aspect of it requires approval of the Office of Management and Budget because it affects information collection by the government, it can take considerably longer.”
He also explains “whether a station can secure the front door of its studio will depend on whether all other portions of the file are already online.” (Commercial radio stations with five-plus employees in the top 50 markets were required to complete this task by Dec. 24 of last year, but other stations have more time to upload their files, through March 1, 2018.)
Flick considers whether or not the change means stations will no longer be “required to provide a summary of all violence-asserting correspondence that is ‘received from the public and maintained by the licensee (in accordance with Commission regulations),’ because “there arguably is no such correspondence any more.