Breaking News: FCC Moves Forward on Eliminating the Need to Maintain a Local Public File
Last May, Jessica Nyman and I wrote about the potential impact of an FCC Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to eliminate the requirement that stations keep “Letters and Emails from the Public” in their Public Inspection File. In moving public inspection files online, the FCC recognized that posting such letters and emails online creates privacy concerns, and required that stations continue to maintain such correspondence at the main studio in the local public file. The result was that many stations had to maintain and provide public access to a local public file solely to provide this one category of document.
Earlier today, the FCC released the tentative agenda for its January 31 meeting, and the sole item on it is:
Streamlining the Public File Rules: The Commission will consider a Report and Order that would eliminate the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain copies of letters and emails from the public in their public inspection file and the requirement that cable operators retain the location of the cable system’s principal headend in their public inspection file.
While we are still waiting to hear who will be chairing that post-inaugural meeting, for broadcasters, it’s a nice way to start the year. For more background on the proceeding and information on the likely benefits for stations, please check out our earlier post on the subject.