Broadcasters have been extremely leery of the new enhanced disclosure rules that the FCC has been intent on installing as a measure to promote localism. The NAB has decided to take it a step beyond protesting the rules to the FCC — it’s taking its case to the DC Circuit. NAB intends to argue that the rules are (you’ll never guess) "arbitrary and capricious; contrary to law; and unconstitutional."
NAB Executive Vice President Dennis Wharton explained, "America’s broadcasters have no quarrel with serving the public interest. Indeed, public service is the lifeblood of our business, and the most successful radio and television stations are laser-like in their commitment to community, whether that be in the form of local news, raising millions for charities, or saving childrens’ lives with Amber Alerts. Our concern with the new FCC rules are their scale and scope, and the burden involved in complying with this new mandate, particularly for smaller stations. Free, local broadcasting serves a unique role in the fabric of American life, and we would submit that the impact of these regulations would negatively impact the ability of many broadcasters to continue to serve our communities."
RBR/TVBR observation: The big question is what the FCC would do with the massive pile of data it is seeking to collect once it has it in house. There’s going to be a channel that syndicates home shopping fare generated from a distant location, without a single iota of local programming. That may not be a recipe for soaring to the #1 position in the local ratings, but last we heard there was nothing illegal about it. And somebody in the local community must be using the station, or it’d have to find some other type of programming.
So if the FCC will not have the force of law to strip such a programmer of its license, what’s the point of wasting everybody’s time, and the taxpayers’ money, collecting a meaningless mountain of data?