With the change in administration at the FCC, there are opportunities for certain actions to be taken very quickly, without going through the full process of a rulemaking requiring public notice of the proposed rule change and time for public comment. At the end of this last week, we saw the FCC’s Media Bureau take actions in three different proceedings directly applicable to broadcasters to undo what had been done during the prior administration – rescinding actions with respect to noncommercial ownership reports, the disclosure of information about the sponsor of political advertisements, and on the treatment of TV assignment and transfer applications for television stations where shared service agreements are involved. Below, we’ll give a few details about each of those actions.
Two of the rescinded actions were January rulings by the Media Bureau which, at the time they were issued, drew statements of concern from then-Commissioners Pai and O’Rielly. The Republican Commissioners argued that the actions should have been taken by the full Commission, not the Media Bureau. As these decisions were not final (appeals can be taken or reconsideration requests can be filed within 30 days of an action, and the full Commission, on its own, can set aside a staff action within 40 days), the Media Bureau, presumably at the urging of the new Chairman, set these actions aside for further consideration by the full Commission.