At its open meeting earlier this week, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to the public file rules for both broadcasters and cable systems. For commercial broadcasters, the FCC proposed to eliminate the requirement that they include in their public file copies of letters and emails to the station concerning station operations. For cable systems, the FCC proposed to eliminate the obligation to include in their file documents disclosing the location of their headend. What do these proposals mean for broadcasters?
Most of the broadcaster focus has been on the proposal to delete the obligation that commercial broadcasters keep a correspondence folder in their public inspection file for letters and emails from the public commenting on the operation of the station (the requirement has never applied to noncommercial broadcasters). Those files are supposed to contain, in a physical file at their main studio, all of the correspondence that stations receive from viewers or listeners (allowing broadcasters to omit correspondence that listeners asked to be kept private, and correspondence that contains offensive material). For TV stations that have already converted to an online public file for all of their other public file documents, and for radio stations who will soon be doing so (see our posts here and here on the upcoming obligation of radio to convert to an online public file), these letters will be the only remnant of the public file that must still be maintained at the main studio. The FCC tentatively concluded that the obligation to keep these letters and emails was no longer necessary.
Continue Reading FCC Proposes to Eliminate Public File Obligations – No More Letters from the Public for Broadcasters, No Cable Headend Information for Cable Systems?