Originally published: October 22, 2011
Last updated: October 22, 2011 - 2:23pm
The Federal Communications Commission next week is expected to scrap its 2007 Enhanced Disclosure decision to require broadcasters to file more detailed programming reports and put them online for easier public inspection, but that is only so the current FCC can start over and figure out the best way to achieve that goal.
As part of then-FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's effort to modify the FCC's newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules back in 2007, the FCC also approved more detailed information on programming in a range of areas including news, public affairs and the amount of independently produced programming that stations air (the much-maligned form 355). The requirements included, among other things, a list of "all local news program segments dealing with community issues." Broadcasters took the decision to court on the grounds that it would be a paperwork nightmare, arguing the FCC had underestimated the new paperwork collection requirements by some 1,000%. They also had First Amendment concerns. The court punted the decision back to the FCC and the new disclosure requirements have been in limbo ever since. But with online disclosure one of the few hard recommendations of the FCC's report on the information needs of communities, the FCC has decided to start over. It plans to vacate that 2007 disclosure decision and issue a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) seeking comment on how best to collect that info and what should be collected.
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