The FCC’s proposal to replace the never-implemented Form 355 with a new form to document the public interest programming of television broadcasters (to eventually be expanded to include radio operators) was published in today’s Federal Register – setting January 17 as the comment date for those interested in telling the FCC what they think of the proposed new form.  We summarized the FCC’s proposals for the content of the new form in our article here.  This form would also replace quarterly issues programs lists as the way that broadcasters demonstrate how they serve the public interest, and would be included in the new online public inspection file if the proposal for such a file is adopted by the FCC (comments on that proposal are due next week, on December 22, see our notice here). 

The new form documenting the public interest programming of TV stations is proposed to include information on the following types of programs, based on a "composite week" of data – the dates for which may be selected after the fact, potentially requiring the taping of programs so that broadcasters can reach back to get the required data:

  • Local news
  • Local Civic/Government Affairs ("interviews with or statements by elected or appointed officials and relevant policy experts on issues of importance to the community, government meetings, legislative sessions, conferences featuring elected officials, and substantive discussions of civic issues of interest to local communities or groups")
  • Local Electoral Affairs
  • Closed Captioning and Video Description (i.e. how much video description is being done by a station, and what exceptions to closed captioning are being claimed for programming broadcast on the station)
  • Emergency accessibility complaints (complaints filed against a station for not making emergency programming accessible to those with disabilities)

For more concerns about some of the proposals, review our more detailed summary of the proposal, and file comments by January 17, or replies by January 30, in this important proceeding.