FCC adopts new reporting requirements for TV


Broadcast television stations will have to begin posting their public file on their website (or possibly on a state broadcasters association site), using a newly-standardized form which includes an update of the old issues/programs list. It will have to be maintained and updated on a quarterly basis. The new form, which will be available from the FCC online, will require broadcasters to "…list various types of programming, including local civic programming, local electoral affairs programming, public service announcements, and independently produced programming, and also includes information about efforts that have been made to ascertain the programming needs of various segments of the community, and information regarding closed captioning and video described content."

Chairman Kevin Martin said, "Today we take steps to highlight the work many broadcasters are doing to serve their community, and shine a light on those who could improve their commitment to localism." Michael Copps approved but thought it didn’t go far enough, saying, "This is a good step forward. While it doesn’t deliver the real kind of public interest standards that I think the American people would like to have for those who manage the public’s airwaves, it will provide significantly more information than we presently have to inform us all about what and how broadcasters are doing."

Robert McDowell offered some dissent on behalf of small stations already struggling with the DTV transition, fearing that the measure would "…overly burden the broadcasters without sufficient corresponding benefits to the local citizens served by the station."

TVBR/RBR observation: The burden is going to be on small independents getting by on a subsistence diet of low-cost syndicated fare. It may not be too hard to find items to put in the file for a top network affiliate with a big news staff. It will be interesting to see if the files start to become a factor in renewal hearings, and if this new television regime trickles on down to radio at some point in the future.