The online public inspection file for radio is moving closer to reality at an unusually fast pace. Yesterday, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking to expand the online public file requirements that now apply to broadcast TV stations to radio (see our summary of the obligations here, and a presentation that we did on those requirements, here). The rulemaking proposal also looks to adopt online public file obligations for cable systems, satellite television systems, and Sirius XM. Comments will be due 30 days after the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.
The NPRM proposes a phased-in approach to these obligations for radio. It would first require the online public files only for stations in the top 50 Nielsen (formerly Arbitron) markets which employ five or more full-time employees. The Commission chose these stations to begin the process, reasoning that they are subject to the EEO rules and would thus have EEO reporting obligations (which are already online for most station, albeit on their own station websites), and would have more resources to meet any obligation that the rule imposes. The Top 50 markets were also the starting point for the roll out of these obligations for TV stations, and are likely also in areas where there is significant political broadcasting activity. The NPRM asks whether a six month period to implement the new requirements from the effective date of any set of new rules would be appropriate. Continue Reading