The deadline for submitting comments in the Commission’s Localism rule making proceeding is fast approaching. Comments are due by April 28th, and can be filed electronically through the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System. This proceeding contains a number of significant proposals and could possibly re-institute regulations that were lifted from the broadcast industry decades ago. Formal ascertainment through community advisory boards and possibly other means, requirements for manning main studios during all hours of operation of broadcast stations, imposing quantitative programming requirements, and requiring that main studios be maintained within a station’s community of license are just a few of the many proposals the FCC is considering. See our more detailed summary here. This proceeding seeks input on these and other potentially burdensome requirements, many of which were eliminated by the Commission long ago, and some of which go beyond what the FCC has ever required before. Given the potential impact this proceeding could have on broadcast stations, broadcasters are encouraged to file comments in this important rule making proceeding. When submitting comments, commenters should be sure to reference the docket number for this rule making, MB Docket No. 04-233.
Some members of Congress have already chimed in in this proceeding and submitted comments opposing the Commission’s localism proposals. Over 120 members of Congress signed on to a letter addressed to Chairman Martin urging the Commission to avoid imposing additional regulations on broadcasters and to carefully consider the cost and effect that such regulation would have on the industry. A copy of the letter is available here. A summary of the letter posted on Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s web site characterizes the localism proceeding as an attempt to "restore a 1970s era regulatory regime for local broadcasters."