At its open meeting this week, the FCC adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to change the requirement for local public notice of certain broadcast applications.  Such notices are required currently for applications, including license renewals and station sales.  The current rules contain different requirements for different types of applications that require public notice – both in the substance of what must be disclosed in the notice and in the required timing of the notice.  The FCC’s proposal looks to standardize the timing of the required public notice, move it online and refocus its substance so that it will routinely say what type of application was filed and provide a link to the online application so that members of the public can review it..

Some of the specific changes proposed by the FCC, and the questions that they ask about those changes include:

  • Eliminate the requirement for the publication of newspaper public notice, shifting instead to a requirement that notice be published on the station’s website or, if the station has no website, on some other publicly accessible site. The FCC proposes that the notice be maintained on the website for at least 30 days and asks what other sites should be allowed to substitute for the station’s website if the station does not have a website.
  • The Commission proposes that the online notice be shortened, essentially providing the name of the applicant(s), the type of application filed, and providing a link to the application in the station’s FCC-hosted online public file or, where the station is not required to have an online public file, to the application itself in other FCC databases.
  • The FNPRM suggests a change in the obligations for over-the-air notice to require that the notice be broadcast once a week for 4 consecutive weeks and be re-formatted to be much more like the online notice, focusing on directing the public to the website notice where there is a link to the application itself. The FCC proposes that the notices be run anytime between 7 AM and 11 PM local time.

Other proposals are made on specific types of applications, and a host of specific questions about each of these proposals are advanced by the FCC.  Interested parties can file comments for 30 days after public notice of the FNPRM is published in the Federal Register; and reply comments can be filed in a 15 day period after the initial comments.