FCC Seeks Comment On Modernizing TV Program Reporting Requirements
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554In the Matter of
Standardizing Program Reporting Requirements
MB Docket No. 11-189
for Broadcast Licensees
NOTICE OF INQUIRY
Adopted: November 10, 2011
Released: November 14, 2011
Comment Date: [30 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]
Reply Comment Date: [45 days after date of publication in the Federal Register]
INTRODUCTION1. In this Notice of Inquiry (“NOI”), we seek comment on a proposal to replace the
issues/programs list that television stations have been required to place in their public files for decades
with a streamlined, standardized disclosure form that will be available to the public online. Our goal is to
make it easier for members of the public to learn about how television stations serve their communities,
and to make broadcasters more accountable to the public, by requiring stations to provide easily
accessible programming information in a standardized format. This standardized disclosure will also
assist the Commission and researchers to study and analyze how broadcasters respond to the needs and
interests of their communities of license. We seek to address many of the shortcomings that have been
attributed to the form adopted in the 2007 Enhanced Disclosure Report and Order,1 which we have
vacated in a separate Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(“FNPRM”).2 While we have vacated the 2007 Report and Order, we continue to believe that the creation
and implementation of a standardized form is beneficial and worthy of pursuing. In this NOI, we propose
to require broadcasters to report on their programming using a sample-based methodology and we also
seek comment on a more limited number of reporting categories. We propose to limit this disclosure form
requirement to television licensees at this time.
2. In the Enhanced Disclosure FNPRM, we seek comment on a proposal to make television
broadcasters’ public inspection files accessible online, in a new database to be hosted by the
1 In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public
Interest Obligations, Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 1274 (2007) (“Report and Order”).
2 In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public
Interest Obligations, Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, MB Docket No. 00-
168, FCC 11-162 (rel. Oct. 27, 2011)(“Order on Recon and FNPRM”).
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169Commission.3 Our objective in this NOI is to develop a standardized form that will be included in the
new online public file. We note that we are addressing only the standardized form requirement in this
NOI. Due to the complexity of the issues surrounding the standardized form, we have opened this new
docket to address these issues specifically. The existing Enhanced Disclosure docket, MM docket number
00-168, will now be dedicated to addressing the proposed online public file requirement. Given the value
of the comments previously filed in that proceeding regarding the standardized form issues, however, we
will incorporate that record into this proceeding. We ask commenters to file their comments regarding the
online public file requirement in response to the Enhanced Disclosure FNPRM, docket 00-168, and
comments regarding the standardized form in this docket. We remain committed to the implementation of
a standardized form, and seek to do so expeditiously. We seek comments in this proceeding that will
assist us in crafting a form that is beneficial and workable for those using and drafting the forms.
BACKGROUND3. One of a television broadcaster's fundamental public interest obligations is to air
programming responsive to the needs and interests of its community of license.4 In 1984, the
Commission adopted the current issues/programs list requirement, which requires a station to place in its
public inspection file “every three months a list of programs that have provided the station’s most
significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three month period.”5 This
issues/programs list must include a brief narrative describing what issues were given significant treatment
and the programming that provided this treatment, together with the time, date, duration, and title of each
program in which the issue was treated.6 In adopting the issues/programs list requirement for television
stations, the Commission expected the list to be “[t]he most significant source of issue-responsive
information under the new regulatory scheme.”7 Moreover, the list was intended to be a significant
source of information for any initial investigation by the public or the Commission when renewal of the
station’s license was at issue.8 In 1998, the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital
Television Broadcasters issued its Final Report.9 The Advisory Committee Report determined that
3 Order on Recon and FNPRM at ¶ 14.
4 Revision of Programming and Commercialization Policies, Ascertainment Requirements, and Program Log
Requirements for Commercial Television Stations, Report and Order, 98 FCC 2d 1076, ¶ 32 (1984). Programming
that meets this obligation to be responsive to the needs and interest of the community of license is sometimes
referred to as “public interest programming.”
5 Revision of Programming and Commercialization Policies, Ascertainment Requirements, and Program Log
Requirements for Commercial Television Stations, Report and Order, 98 F.C.C.2d 1075, 1107-11 (1984) (“TV
Deregulation”); see also 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.3526(e)(11), 73.3527(e)(8).
6 47 C.F.R. § 73.3526(e)(11).
7 TV Deregulation, 98 F.C.C.2d at 1109.
8 Id. at 1109-10.
9 See Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters, Charting the Digital
Broadcasting Future: Final Report of the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television
Broadcasters, (Dec. 18, 1998) at 45 (“Advisory Committee Report”). The Advisory Committee Report can be found
at: http://benton.org/sites/benton.org/files/recs.pdf. The Advisory Committee was convened to examine the public
interest obligations of broadcasters as they transitioned to digital technology, and was directed to develop formal
recommendations concerning the public interest obligations of digital broadcasters. See Advisory Committee
Report at 136. The Committee was composed of 22 leaders in the commercial and noncommercial broadcasting
industry, computer industries, film and video production industry, the artistic community, academic institutions,
public interest organizations, and the advertising community. Id. at 136 and Appendix G. It was chaired by Leslie
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169“[e]ffective self-regulation by the broadcast industry in the public interest requires the availability to the
public of adequate information about what a local broadcaster is doing.”10 The Committee recommended
that the currently required lists of issue-responsive programming and children’s programming be
augmented by including more information about stations’ public interest programs and activities, and it
put forward a sample standardized form that could be used to that end.11
4. In 2000, the Commission issued the Enhanced Disclosure Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,
which grew out of a prior Notice of Inquiry exploring the public interest obligations of broadcast
television stations as they transitioned to digital.12 The Commission tentatively proposed to require
television stations to use a standardized form to report on how they serve the public interest.13 In making
this proposal, the Commission noted the difficulties that members of the public had encountered in
accessing programming information under the existing issues/programs list requirement, given the lack of
a standardized reporting mechanism.14 The Commission suggested that the use of a standardized
disclosure form would facilitate access to the issues/program information and would make broadcasters
more accountable to the public.15 It also observed that a standardized form would benefit the public by
reducing the time needed to locate information and by providing the public with a better mechanism for
reviewing broadcaster public interest programming and activities.16
5. In 2007, the Commission adopted a Report and Order in the Enhanced Disclosure proceeding
requiring television broadcasters to replace their issues/programs lists with Standardized Television
Disclosure Form 355 and to post the completed forms online.17 The Commission found that uniform and
consistent programming lists would allow the public more effectively to compare the efforts of various
stations,18 and assess the programming aired.19 The Commission anticipated that the online posting of such
forms would give rise to a more active dialogue between licensees and their audiences, which in turn would
lead to more programs that are responsive to issues important to local communities.20 The Commission
Moonves, President of CBS Television, and Dr. Norman Ornstein, Resident Scholar at the American Enterprise
Institute. Id. After 15 months, that effort culminated in the Advisory Committee Report. Id. at 136.
10 Id. at 45.
11 Id. at 46 and Appendix A, “Public Interest Programming and Community Service Certification Form.”
12 Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public Interest
Obligations, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 15 FCC Rcd 19816 (2000) (“NPRM”); In the Matter of Public Interest
Obligations of TV Broadcast Licensees, Notice of Inquiry, 14 FCC Rcd 21633 (1999)(“Enhanced Disclosure NOI”).
13 NPRM at ¶ 10.
14 NPRM at 19819.
15 Id. at 19820.
17 Report and Order at ¶ 1.
18 Id. at ¶ 38. (stating that “[f]or those attempting to make use of the list and to compare the efforts of various stations,
uniformity of reporting is desirable and, indeed, may be essential”).
19 Id. at ¶ 44.
20 See id. at ¶ 40 (online posting of the standardized form “could prompt more active dialogue between licensees and
their audiences concerning issues of public importance to local communities and how broadcasters might go about
addressing those issues on the air – which may quickly lead to the airing of more responsive programming. Second,
such enhanced dialogue aided by online posting would help licensees develop, air, and document in an understandable
way the kind of responsive programming directly relevant to license renewals and assist the Commission in evaluating
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169determined that standardized disclosure would also provide useful information for assessing the
effectiveness of current Commission policies.21 The 2007 standardized disclosure form, Form 355, required
each station to submit a comprehensive list of any programs or program segments it aired every quarter that
fell into specific categories.22 The categories included: national news, local news, local civic affairs, local
electoral affairs, independently produced programming, local programming, public service announcements,
paid public service announcements, programming that meets the needs of underserved communities,
religious programming, efforts undertaken to determine the programming needs of the community, service
for persons with disabilities, and current emergency information.23 The Commission found that the benefits
derived from public disclosure of such a comprehensive list of programming outweighed the burden that the
requirement placed on broadcasters.24
6. Following the release of the Report and Order, several industry petitioners raised a number of
issues regarding the standardized form, generally contending that it was vague, overly complex, and
burdensome.25 Public interest advocates also filed petitions for reconsideration, arguing that the
standardized form should be designed to facilitate the downloading and aggregation of data for
researchers.26 They also asked the Commission to conduct periodic audits of data accuracy to ensure the
removal of incorrect data, reassess whether the system is providing information in a useful format, and
seek ongoing input from researchers on its staff and outside the Commission to ensure that the system is
implemented in a useful and user-friendly manner.27 In addition, five parties sought court review of the
Report and Order, and the cases were consolidated in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C.
Circuit.28 The D.C Circuit granted a petition to hold the court proceeding in abeyance while the
Commission reviewed the petitions for reconsideration.29 Challenging the 2007 rules in a third forum,
several parties opposed the information collection contained in the Report and Order at the Office of
Management and Budget (“OMB”) under the Paperwork Reduction Act.30 Because the Commission
determined that it would need to revise the rules on reconsideration, it did not transmit the information
whether they serve the public interest. Third, the disclosure provides information that will be useful in assessing the
effectiveness of current policies”).
22 Id. at ¶ 44.
23 See Report and Order, Appendix B.
25 See generally Association of Public Television Stations and PBS Petition for Reconsideration (“APTS & PBS
Petition”); Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership Petition for Reconsideration (“BLLP Petition”); Joint
Broadcasters Petition for Reconsideration (“JB Petition”); Joint Public Television Licensees Petition for
Reconsideration (“JPT Petition”).
26 Campaign Legal Center, et al. Petition for Reconsideration (“CLC Petition”) at 3-7.
28 National Association of Broadcasters v. FCC, No. 08-1135 (D.C. Cir.); Office of Communication of the United
Church of Christ, Inc. v. FCC, No. 08-1151 (D.C. Cir.); ABC Television Affiliates Ass'n v. FCC, No. 08-1185 (D.C.
Cir.); The Walt Disney Company v. FCC, No. 08-1186 (D.C. Cir.); CBS Corporation v. FCC, No. 08-1187 (D.C.
29 Order, National Association of Broadcasters v. FCC, Nos. 08-1135 et al. (D.C. Cir.) (July 11, 2008).
30 The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-13, requires that the Office of Management and Budget
(“OMB”) approve any information collections. As required, the Commission had published a notice in the Federal
Register seeking comment on the projected burdens of the information collections contained in the rules. See 73 FR
13462 (Mar. 13, 2008); 73 FR 30316 (May 27, 2008).
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169collection and form to OMB, and therefore the rules and form have never gone into effect.31
7. In June 2011, a working group including Commission staff, scholars and consultants released
“The Information Needs of Communities” (“INC Report”), a comprehensive report on the current state of
the media landscape.32 The INC Report discussed both the need to empower citizens to ensure that
broadcasters serve their communities in exchange for the use of public spectrum, and also the need to
remove unnecessary burdens on broadcasters who aim to serve their communities. The INC Report
provided several recommendations relevant to this proceeding, including replacing the enhanced
disclosure standardized form adopted in 200733 with a streamlined, web-based form through which
broadcasters could provide programming information based on a composite or sample period.34
8. In a separate Order on Reconsideration and FNPRM, we vacated the form adopted in the
Report and Order. 35 We determined that we should reexamine the determinations made in the Report and
Order in light of the arguments raised in the petitions for reconsideration and given that the record upon
which those rules were adopted does not reflect the rapid technological advances that have occurred since
the proceeding was commenced in 2000. We now seek to address many of the criticisms directed at the
standardized form adopted in the Report and Order.
Standardized Form9. In the Report and Order, the Commission sought to address the systemic problem that the
public lacked access to consistent and uniform information about television broadcasters’ programming, as
identified in the Advisory Committee Report and the record of the proceeding.36 We remain dedicated to
addressing this problem. Nonetheless, the reconsideration petitions we received from broadcasters and
public interest advocates and the responses thereto have persuaded us to reexamine the balance the
Commission struck in 2007 between public access to programming information and the burden providing
such information imposes on broadcasters. Although we have vacated the 2007 Report and Order and
dismissed the petitions for reconsideration of that order,37 we believe that some of the proposals
developed in the Enhanced Disclosure proceeding are worth further consideration. In addition, to the
31 See 47 C.F.R. §§73.3526, effective date nt. 2; 47 C.F.R. §§73.3526, effective date note; 47 C.F.R. §§73.1201,
effective date note 2. The preexisting requirement of an issues/programs list therefore remains in effect. For
purposes of clarity, the Order on Reconsideration also requires re-codification of the public file rules in existence
prior to adoption of the Report and Order.
32 “The Information Needs of Communities: The Changing Media Landscape in a Broadband Age,” by Steven
Waldman and the Working Group on Information Needs of Communities (June 2011), available at
www.fcc.gov/infoneedsreport. As noted in the INC Report, the report was drafted by an informal working group,
and the views of the report “do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Communications Commission, its
Commissioners or any individual Bureaus or Offices.” Id. at 362.
33 Id. at 29.
34 INC Report at 28.
35 Order on Recon and FNPRM at ¶¶ 8-9, 59.
36 See Report and Order at ¶¶ 37, 40. See also Opposition to Petitions for Reconsideration of Campaign Legal
Center, et al. (“CLC Opposition”) at 2-5 (“Broadcast petitioners ignore the extensive record in both the Enhanced
Disclosure and Localism proceedings demonstrating that existing reporting requirements (issues/programs lists)
have failed to provide sufficient information about how broadcasters are serving the public interest.”)
37 Order on Recon and FNPRM at ¶¶ 8-9, 59-60.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169extent that the arguments made in the petitions for reconsideration are relevant and can inform this new
NOI, we discuss them below. We also seek comment on INC Report proposals and other proposals to
ensure that the public has standardized information about how broadcasters are serving their communities,
while also avoiding placing unnecessary burdens on broadcasters.
10. We continue to believe that the use of a standardized disclosure form will facilitate access to
information on how licensees are serving the public interest and will allow the public to play a more
active role in helping a station meet its obligation to provide programming that addresses the community's
needs and interests.38 The issues/programs list required under the current rules, while providing some
information to the public and establishing a record of some of a station’s community-oriented
programming, suffers from several drawbacks, including a lack of uniformity and consistency in the way
broadcasters maintain the lists. This makes effective access to the program information and assessment of
a broadcaster’s program performance extremely difficult. A standardized disclosure form could address
these concerns, and in view of advances in technology and the revisions to the form we discuss here,
should not impose unwarranted burdens of broadcasters. A standardized disclosure form will make
broadcasters more accountable to the public, and improving broadcaster accountability to the public will
minimize the need for government involvement in monitoring how broadcasters comply with their public
interest obligations.39 A standardized disclosure will significantly reduce the time needed to locate
information sought by the public and will provide the public with a better mechanism for reviewing a
broadcaster's public interest programming and activities.40 Placing the new standardized form online,
instead of merely on paper in the broadcasters’ offices, will make it far easier for the public to review the
information. We seek comment on these tentative findings.
11. We disagree with the reconsideration petitioners in the 2007 Enhanced Disclosure proceeding
who argue that there is no need for the Commission to adopt a standardized form. The record in the
Enhanced Disclosure docket, which is incorporated in this proceeding, demonstrates that “[t]he lack of
uniformity and consistency of the issues/program lists make it difficult to discern both how much and
what types of public interest programming a broadcaster provided,” which makes any “overall assessment
or comparison between broadcasters virtually impossible.”41 Commenters in the Enhanced Disclosure
proceeding identified the benefits of a standardized form, including enhanced access to information on the
extent to which broadcasters are meeting their public interest obligations,42 ease of use by the public and
broadcasters alike,43 and the promotion of a dialog between stations and the public they serve.44
Moreover, the Report and Order noted that the record of the Localism proceeding — especially that
portion amassed during a series of public hearings conducted across the country — suggested that there
may be a communications breakdown between licensees and their communities concerning the breadth of
their efforts to air programming that serves their licensed communities’ local needs and interests.45
38 NPRM at 19820.
41 Id. at ¶ 35. One commenter noted that its most consistent finding in their inspection of stations’ public files was
the lack of consistency in the files. Comments of People for Better TV (“PBTV”) at 4.
42 Reply Comments of PBTV at 5.
43 Comments of CBC at 3.
44 Comments of PBTV at 18.
45 In August 2003, the Commission launched a “Localism in Broadcasting” initiative designed to review localism
practices among broadcasters (the “Localism Proceeding”). See FCC Chairman Powell Launches “Localism in
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169Written comments submitted in the Localism docket and testimony received during several localism field
hearings indicated that many members of the public are not fully aware of the community-responsive
programming that their local stations air.46 The Report and Order noted that affording the public
improved access to information about a station’s programming through the use of a standardized
disclosure form would foster a better understanding of stations’ localism efforts within their
communities.47 The Report and Order also noted that by enhancing a dialogue with viewers as a result of
improved public access to such information, the standardized disclosure form could assist the
Commission in determining whether the licensees are serving the public interest.48 Finally, the Report
and Order further noted that the standardized disclosure form would provide information that will be
useful to the Commission and the public in assessing the effectiveness of current Commission policies
governing television broadcasting.49 We agree with the Commission’s prior findings regarding the
benefits of a standardized form. We note that technological advances have made it possible for the public
to review data much more easily via the Internet, but we believe the efficacy of such disclosures is much
greater when the information is offered in a standardized format. We seek comment on these findings.
12. We have seen no evidence that broadcasters have attempted to change their issues/programs
reporting to become more consistent or uniform since the Commission launched this proceeding in 2000. In
fact, the recently released INC Report discusses consistency and uniformity problems similar to those
Broadcasting” Initiative, News Release (Aug. 20, 2003). In addition to conducting a series of field hearings on the
subject, the Commission issued a Notice of Inquiry seeking written input from the public on how broadcasters are
serving the interests and needs of their communities; whether the agency needs to adopt new policies, practices, or
rules designed to promote localism in broadcast television and radio; and, if so, what those policies, practices, or
rules should be. Broadcast Localism (MM Docket No. 04-233), Notice of Inquiry, 19 FCC Rcd 12425 (2004) (the
“Localism Docket”). The Commission conducted field hearings on localism issues in Charlotte, North Carolina
(October 22, 2003); San Antonio, Texas (January 28, 2004); Rapid City, South Dakota (May 26, 2004); Monterey,
California (July 21, 2004); Portland, Oregon (June 28, 2007); and Washington, DC (October 31, 2007).
46 Compare, e.g., Testimony of Mary Klenz, Co-President, League of Women Voters of North Carolina at Charlotte,
North Carolina, Localism Task Force Hearing (October 22, 2003), Charlotte Tr. 133-135 (lack of local political
programming); Testimony of Martin Kaplan, Associate Dean, Annenberg School for Communication, University of
Southern California, at Monterey, California, Localism Task Force Field Hearing (July 21, 2004), Monterey Tr. 63-
65 (lack of local news, political programming) (“Kaplan Testimony”); Comments of Delia Saldivar, Radio Bilingue,
Inc., KHDC-FM, Salinas, California, at Monterey, California Localism Task Force Hearing (July 21, 2004),
Monterey Tr. 127 (“a large segment of the population [Latinos] is being excluded from effective radio service”) at 2;
with Testimony of Michael Ward, General Manager of WNCN-TV, Charlotte, North Carolina Localism Task Force
Hearing (October 22, 2003), Charlotte Tr. 139 (television stations are successful due to local involvement and local
relevance); Chuck Tweedle, Senior Regional Vice President of Bonneville International’s San Francisco and St.
Louis Divisions; General Manager of KOIT-AM/FM in San Francisco, California, at Monterey, California Localism
Task Force Hearing (July 21, 2004), Monterey Tr. 78-79 (Bonneville produces and airs three local public affairs
programs each week and its three bay area stations also broadcast more than four hours of locally-produced news).
In addition, other individuals expressed their concerns during the “open microphone” portion of each hearing
proceeding, while their local broadcasters discussed their responsive programming at length during the same
hearing. See, e.g., Testimony of Deborah Lavoy at San Antonio, Texas Localism Task Force Hearing (January 28,
2004), San Antonio Tr. 153-54 (lack of quality news coverage of local issues); Testimony of Robert McGann,
President and General Manager of KENS-TV, at San Antonio, Texas Localism Task Force Hearing (January 28,
2004), San Antonio Tr. 62-64 (localism is the business of local television, and KENS-TV programming is
responsive to its viewers).
47 Report and Order at ¶ 40.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169identified in the Commission’s prior proceeding, and supports the continuing need for a standardized form.50
We continue to believe that a standardized form is necessary and should replace the current issues/programs
list. We seek comment on this tentative finding.
13. We are persuaded by petitioners in the Enhanced Disclosure proceeding who argued that Form
355 as adopted in the Report and Order was overly burdensome. We propose changes to that form, as
discussed below, to substantially reduce the burden it imposes on broadcasters. These changes include
adopting a sample approach to reporting and streamlining the information that must be included in the form.
We welcome any other proposals that will lead to effective disclosure by broadcasters of the ways in which
they serve the public.
1. Reporting Period
14. Form 355 as adopted in the Report and Order required television broadcasters to report
quarterly on every relevant program or program segment aired for each program category listed in the
Form.51 We agree with the reconsideration petitioners who argued that requiring reporting on all
programming in those categories would be unduly burdensome.52
15. Some petitioners asserted that the Commission could lessen the burden on licensees while
providing adequate disclosure of licensees’ public interest programming by restricting reporting to one
week per quarter.53 As noted, the INC Report similarly recommends that the Commission consider
requiring information drawn from only a sample or composite week of programming on a quarterly basis,
rather than requiring a comprehensive listing of all relevant programs throughout the year.54 A
constructed or composite week is a sampling method in which individual days are selected at random by
the Commission to construct a week that contains different days of the week from different weeks of the
quarter.55 First, a Sunday is randomly selected from all possible Sundays in the quarter. Then, a Monday
is selected in the same way, and so on. The Commission has used a composite week reporting approach
in the past. In the 1970s, the Commission authorized the staff to act, through delegated authority, on
applications for renewal of radio and television stations that aired specified amounts of certain
50 INC Report at 347, 285.
51 Report and Order at ¶ 44. See ¶ 22, supra for the list of categories.
52 See APTS & PBS Petition at 14-18; Petition for Reconsideration of the Oklahoma Educational Television
Authority (“OETA Petition”) at 1; Joint Petition for Reconsideration of PTV Licensees (“PTV Licensees Petition”)
at 4; JPT Petition at 2, 11-13; Petition for Reconsideration of Northern California Public Broadcasting, Inc., (“NCPB
Petition”) at 2-3, 12; BLLP Petition at 5, 13-15; Opposition to Petition for Reconsideration of the National
Association of Broadcasters (“NAB Opposition”) at 9-10; Reply to Oppositions to Petition for Reconsideration of
NAB (“NAB Reply”) at 3-6; Joint Reply to Oppositions to Petitions for Reconsideration of Alabama Broadcasters
Association, et al. at 3-5; Brief Comment of Robert H. Pettitt, KRRP-LP at 2; but cf CLC Opposition at 21-22
(completing the form will not be unduly burdensome for licensees); Opposition of the Telecommunications for the
Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc. et al. (“TDI Opposition”) at 5-6. Commenters also argued that the sheer volume of
data required by the form would not be useful to the public, and would be more than necessary to assess broadcaster
53 JB Petition at 14; NAB Opposition 9-10.
54 INC Report at 348.
55 Letter from Angela Campbell and Andrew Schwartzman, counsel for the Public Interest, Public Airwaves
Coalition, to Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC at 2-3 (Aug. 4, 2011)(“PIPAC ex parte”).
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169programming.56 Failure to satisfy the guidelines, based on a composite broadcast week analysis, resulted
in the referral of a licensee's renewal application to the full Commission for its consideration.57
16. We believe that a sample approach to reporting would provide sufficient information to the
public, without unduly burdening broadcasters, and seek comment on this approach. How could a
composite week or weeks be structured for reportable programming? For example, how many days of
programming should be included in the reporting requirement for each quarter? We seek comment on
how to implement a random selection. Are there are certain distortions to the average programming day,
such as sweeps week, that should be excluded? Alternatively, would it be less burdensome for
broadcasters to compile information for one or more full weeks during the quarter? What would be the
advantages and disadvantages of each approach?
17. In a recent ex parte in the Enhanced Disclosure proceeding, the Public Interest, Public
Airwaves Coalition (“PIPAC”) proposes that broadcasters be required to submit data for two constructed
or composite weeks per quarter that are selected by the Commission.58 Under PIPAC’s proposal,
broadcasters would be obligated to report on programming categories aired during the randomly selected
days comprising the two constructed weeks per quarter.59 PIPAC attaches a statement from a coalition of
academics with expertise in media sampling that says that a constructed week, if implemented properly,
has methodological validity for academic research and would provide a snapshot of programming for the
public.60 We seek comment on this proposal. In particular, is two constructed weeks the appropriate time
period over which to collect programming information? Would one week provide the public and research
community with a sufficient sampling period, while lessening the burdens placed on broadcasters that
have to compile this information? How should we balance the burdens on broadcasters against the need
for a methodologically valid approach that will accurately reflect the reportable programming that
broadcasters provide to their community of license? If any period less than two weeks is too little time to
be valid or accurate, would that undermine the purpose of the reporting requirement?
18. Notice. If we decide to take a composite approach or to select a particular week or weeks for
reporting purposes, we will need to determine how and when to notify broadcasters which days are
included, and whether such notice should be provided before or after the selected date. We seek comment
on how and when to provide such notice. If we adopt a composite week or weeks approach, should the
Commission inform the broadcasters that a date has been selected to be part of a composite week on the
following day?61 Alternatively, should the Commission release the reporting dates at the end of the
quarter, or would this needlessly require broadcasters to retain programming information for every day in
the quarter? How long do licensees retain tapes or other records of their programming in the ordinary
course of business? Would it be preferable to announce on a weekly or bi-weekly basis what reporting
56 See Amendment of Part 0 of the Commission's Rules, Order, 43 F.C.C.2d 638, 640 (1973); Amendment of Section
0.281 of the Commission's Rules: delegations of authority to the Chief, Broadcast Bureau, Order, 59 F.C.C.2d 491,
493 (1976); Radio Deregulation Order, Report and Order, 84 F.C.C.2d at 968, 975 (1981).
57 Formulation of Rules and Policies Relating to the Renewal of Broadcast Licenses, 43 F.C.C.2d 1, 42-43 ¶¶ 117-
58 PIPAC ex parte at 2.
59 Id. at 3.
61 We anticipate that the Commission’s rules regarding the computation of time, 47 C.F.R. § 1.4, will provide
guidance in the implementation of a notice rule. For example, if a Friday is selected, notification of such a selection
would be provided on the next business day. See 47 C.F.R. § 1.4(j).
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169dates were selected for those weeks? Alternatively, if the Commission were to select a particular week or
weeks for reporting, should it be announced at the end of the quarter or immediately after the selected
week or weeks? We seek comment on these and other implementation issues and concerns.
19. In petitions for reconsideration of the Report and Order, industry petitioners proposed that the
Commission notify stations a few days before the selected reporting dates in order to provide sufficient
notice about when broadcasters should start logging the information needed to complete the form.62 In
contrast, PIPAC recommends that broadcasters not be given advance notice of the reporting dates to
prevent broadcasters from changing their programming and thereby “gaming the system.”63 PIPAC
recommends that the Commission select the relevant reporting dates at the beginning of the quarter and
then announce each reporting date the morning after the selected day.64 They argue that, because most
broadcasters maintain a tape of their programming for a short time after broadcast, immediate notification
of a reporting date should offer ample notice without giving advance warning that would taint the quality
of the sample.65 We seek comment on these approaches or recommended alternatives.
20. Exceptions to composite reporting. We seek comment on whether adopting a composite
approach will adequately capture performance for all categories of reportable programming that should be
included on the standardized form, or whether there should be certain categories of programming subject
to a more comprehensive reporting requirement. For example, in their recent ex parte proposing a
composite week, PIPAC argues that local electoral affairs programming is important public interest
programming and is critical to an informed citizenry.66 PIPAC suggests that broadcasters be required to
disclose all local electoral affairs programming, defined as discussed below, when the lowest unit charge
rules are in effect, i.e., 45 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.67 PIPAC
argues that the composite week mechanism, while otherwise sufficient, may not adequately capture local
electoral issue coverage, as election timing may not coincide with the randomly selected reporting dates.
We seek comment on this proposal, including projected burdens on broadcasters. If commenters believe
this proposal to be overly burdensome, what alternatives would adequately reflect the extent of
broadcasters’ local electoral affairs programming? We seek to ensure that broadcasters are credited with
their provision of this important public interest programming. For example, would reporting for some
shorter period of time preceding an election be sufficient? Should the Commission consider any other
exceptions to a composite week reporting schedule? Are there other categories of programming that
should be subject to an enhanced reporting requirement?
21. Program and segment reporting. We seek comment on whether reporting should be done on
a program or program segment basis. Form 355 required reporting on all programs or program segments
aired during the quarter for each programming category listed.68 We seek comment on what level of
reporting is most useful, and whether the benefits of the more granular program segment reporting
62 Joint Broadcasters Petition at 15.
63 PIPAC ex parte at 3.
66 Id. at 4.
67 Id. See 47 U.S.C. § 315(b)(1)(A); 47 C.F.R. § 73.1942(a)(1) (requiring that charges made for the use of any
broadcasting station by any legally qualified candidate for any public office in connection with their campaign shall
not exceed the lowest unit charge of the station for the same class and amount of time for 45 days preceding the date
of a primary and 60 days preceding the date of a general or special election).
68 See Report and Order, Appendix B.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169outweigh the burdens it places on broadcasters. What level of reporting granularity is necessary to
provide meaningful information to the public and the research community? Do broadcasters currently
retain their programming information in a manner that would enable reporting on a program segment
basis, or would new programming retention techniques be required? For example, do broadcasters retain
information about the length of each program segment within each news program, i.e. the length of each
story? How should the term “program segment” be defined for purposes of the reporting requirement?
PIPAC asserts that each of the reporting categories should be reportable by program segment. They assert
that information will be more useful if it is reported on a more granular level.69 They assert that this level
of specificity is necessary for local news reporting, since some stories reported on the local news are more
national in character, and would not fit in the local news reporting category, as it does not pertain to the
local community of license.70 We seek comment on these assertions.
2. Reporting Categories
22. In the 2000 NPRM, we tentatively concluded that the standardized form should require
reporting on specified categories of programming, noting that specified categories were necessary
because the current issues/programs lists permit such an assortment of information that the public may
have difficulty determining the extent to which the station is serving the public interest.71 The
Commission specifically noted the categories of programs proposed by the Presidential Advisory
Committee on the Public Interest Obligations of Digital Broadcasters, which they recommended to
augment and standardize the reporting about stations’ public interest programs and activities.72 The
Committee proposed to include the following categories: local and national news programming, local and
national public affairs programming, programming that meets the needs of underserved communities,
programming that contributes to political discourse, other local programming that is not otherwise
addressed in the form, and public service announcements.73 In response to the NPRM, PIPAC submitted a
proposed standardized form suggesting use of the following categories: local civic programming, local
electoral affairs programming, public service announcements, paid public service announcements,
independently produced programming, local programming, underserved communities, and religious
69 PIPAC ex parte at 3.
70 PIPAC ex parte at fn. 27.
71 NPRM, at 19823.
72 NPRM, at 19824 and n.50.
73 Advisory Committee Report at 104-05, App. A. As discussed in the Report and Order, the Commission has
focused historically on different programming categories at different times, but has not adopted any exclusive list of
program types that might be responsive to the requirement that licensees serve the needs of their communities. In a
1946 Report on Public Service Responsibility of Broadcast Licensees, the Commission identified programming
types to be used on station program logs. These programming types included, for example, local live, network,
commercial and “sustaining programs,” which were defined as programs “neither paid for by a sponsor nor
interrupted by a spot announcement.” See generally Public Service Responsibility of Broadcast Licensees (March 7,
1946) (the “Blue Book”). In 1949, in its Report on Editorializing by Broadcast Licensees, 13 FCC 1246, 1249
(1949), the Commission focused on “news” as well as other “programs devoted to the consideration and discussion
of public issues of interest in the community served.” In its 1960 En Banc Programming Inquiry, 44 FCC 2303,
2314 (1960), the Commission made reference to the following categories as relevant to a broadcaster’s public
interest programming: “(1) opportunity for local self-expression, (2) the development and use of local talent, (3)
programs for children, (4) religious programs, (5) educational programs, (6) public affairs programs, (7)
editorialization by licensees, (8) political broadcasts, (9) agricultural programs, (10) news programs, (11) weather
and market reports, (12) sports programs, (13) service to minority groups, (14) entertainment programs,” but noted
that these categories were not intended to be “all-embracing or constant.” See generally Report and Order ¶ 42.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169programming.74 Definitions were included with each of these categories.75 The Commission included the
categories and definitions proposed by PIPAC in Form 355.
23. We disagree with the Enhanced Disclosure reconsideration petitioners who argue that the
standardized reporting categories impose de facto quantitative programming requirements or pressure
stations to ensure carriage of some amount of programming that falls within government-preferred
categories.76 We stress that, as the Commission noted in the Report and Order, the standardized form
does not require broadcasters to air any particular category of programming or mix of programming types.
Nor do we contemplate imposing any such requirements. This will be merely be a replacement reporting
requirement, which the Commission has authority to impose, and we believe it will have the important
benefit of arming consumers with accurate information on which to base their viewing decisions.77 We
seek comment on these tentative findings.
24. Several petitions for reconsideration raised issues about the particular reporting categories
adopted in the Report and Order, arguing that they were confusing, burdensome, and unworkable.78 We
have vacated Form 355 as adopted, and agree that it would be useful to take a fresh look at the categories
and definitions that should be included on the form. We want to ensure that the form collects information
that is relevant to the public’s and our analysis of stations’ service to their communities. In addition, it is
essential to our goal of ensuring the availability of uniform and consistent data that broadcasters be able
easily to categorize programming for inclusion on the form.79
25. PIPAC has recently proposed a new sample form, which is available at
http://www.savethenews.org/sample-form. We are beginning anew our attempt to create a standardized
form, including which programming categories to consider. However, in order to guide the discussion in
this proceeding, we address below the categories now proposed by PIPAC and seek comment on their
proposed form. Are there any categories identified on the newly proposed form that are unnecessary or
could otherwise be deleted? What, if any, additional categories should be included? We note that in
response to the 2000 NPRM, the Commission received very little comment on specific programming
categories; rather, most commenters focused on the merits, or lack thereof, of requiring a standardized
form. We urge commenters to provide specific suggestions about the newly proposed reporting categories
so that we can include those most relevant and useful for broadcasters and the public alike.
26. We recognize that some programs or program segments could be included in multiple
categories. We propose that a program or segment be includable in only one category. This will both
ease the reporting burdens and will ensure that any quantitative analyses accurately reflect the amount of
74 See Notice of Ex Parte Meeting and Attachment, filed by The Public Interest, Public Airwaves Coalition (May 14,
75 Id. Full definitions were listed in Appendix B of the Report and Order.
76 NAB Reply at 7; BLLP Petition at 10-12.
77 Report and Order at ¶¶ 36, 38. See also 47 U.S.C. § 303(j) (“Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the
Commission from time to time, as public convenience, interest, or necessity requires, shall . . . Have authority to
make general rules and regulations requiring stations to keep such records of programs, transmissions of energy,
communications, or signals as it may deem desirable . . .”); see also Office of Communications of United Church of
Christ v. FCC, 779 F.2d 702, 707 (D.C. Cir. 1985) (stating that “[t]here is no question but that the Commission has
the statutory authority to require whatever recordkeeping requirements it deems appropriate.”).
78 See, e.g., APTS and PBS Petition, BLLP Petition, Joint Broadcasters Petition for Reconsideration.
79 We note that the INC Report recommended that the reporting form include categories of local community
programming. See INC Report at 348.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169time devoted to public interest programming. We seek comment on whether further clarification would
be needed among the categories discussed below, and any other proposed categories, to guide
broadcasters in categorizing their programming and/or whether other reporting categories should be
adopted with additional instructions.
27. Local News. We seek comment on reporting requirements for news. PIPAC proposes that we
include a local news category.80 In the Report and Order, Questions 2(a), (b) and (c) of Form 355
required reporting with respect to national news, local news produced by the station, and local news
produced by an entity other than the station;81 all categories were described as including national and
local programs or segments that include significant treatment of community issues. In a petition for
reconsideration, Joint Broadcasters raised concerns that the definition of “news” is vague because
newscasts and other programs, such as nationally syndicated talk shows, often include significant
treatment of community issues.82 PIPAC recommends streamlining the news reporting requirement to just
local news, and provides the following definition: “Programming that is locally produced and reports on
issues about, or pertaining to, a licensee’s local community of license.”83 We seek comment on this
proposed category and proposed definition. Does this definition resolve the concern expressed by Joint
Broadcasters? Is it an otherwise workable definition? What constitutes an “issue” in this definition?
Would a program about an issue not specific to a community but of interest to the community be covered
by this definition as long as it was locally produced? Are there alternative definitions of local news that
we should consider?
28. Local Civic/Governmental Affairs. We seek comment on reporting requirements for civic and
governmental affairs. PIPAC proposes a local civic/government affairs reporting category. In the Report
and Order, Question 2(d) of Form 355 required reporting with respect to local civic affairs.84 PIPAC
proposes retaining that category and provides the following definition, which is largely taken from the
Form 355 local civic affairs definition: “broadcasts of interviews with or statements by elected or
appointed officials and relevant policy experts on issues of importance to the community, government
meetings, legislative sessions, conferences featuring elected officials, and substantive discussions of civic
issues of interest to local communities or groups.”85 We seek comment on this proposed category and
definition. Is this definition, or any portion of it, overly vague? What types of programming would
qualify as “substantive discussions of civic issues of interest to local communities or groups”? Are there
alternative definitions of local civic/governmental affairs programming that we should consider?
29. Local Electoral Affairs. We seek comment on reporting requirements for electoral affairs.
PIPAC also proposes a local electoral affairs category. In the Report and Order, Question 2(e) of Form
80 PIPAC ex parte at 3.
81 Report and Order at Appendix B, Standardized Television Disclosure Form at §§ 2(a), (b) and (c).
82 See Joint Broadcasters Petition at 18.
83 PIPAC ex parte at fn.23, citing Christopher Ali, The Second Day Story: Re-imagining Public Broadcasting
Through Community, (Univ. of Tampere, Finland), 2010, at 15, n.2
84 Local civic affairs programming was defined as programming “designed to provide the public with information
about local issues. Local civic affairs programming includes, but is not limited to, broadcasts of interviews with or
statements by elected or appointed officials and relevant policy experts on issues of importance to the community,
government meetings, legislative sessions, conferences featuring elected officials, and substantive discussions of
civic issues of interest to local communities or groups.” See Report and Order, Appendix B, Definitions.
85 PIPAC ex parte at fn. 24.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169355 required reporting with respect to local electoral affairs.86 PIPAC proposes retaining that category
and provides the following definition, which is largely taken from the Form 355 local electoral affairs
definition: “Local electoral affairs programming consists of candidate-centered discourse focusing on the
local, state and United States Congressional races for offices to be elected by a constituency within the
licensee’s broadcast area. Local electoral affairs programming includes broadcasts of candidate debates,
interviews, or statements, as well as substantive discussions of ballot measures that will be put before the
voters in a forthcoming election.” We seek comment on this proposed category and definition. Is this
definition, or any portion of it, overly vague? If so, how should the definition be refined? Are there
alternative definitions of local electoral affairs programming that we should consider?
30. Closed Captioning and Video Description. We seek comment on reporting requirements
regarding services provided to the disability community. On Form 355, as adopted in the Report and
Order, Question 4 required reporting the number of hours of programming provided with closed
captioning and video description.87 Reconsideration petitioners asserted that reporting on closed
captioning provides little public benefit, and that any benefit is outweighed by the record-keeping burden
imposed on broadcasters. Petitioners also argued that the requirement contravened the Commission’s prior
stance that such reporting is both unnecessarily burdensome and administratively cumbersome.88 Petitioners
argued that, because the Commission provided no reason for changing its position on closed captioning
reporting, the requirement was arbitrary and capricious.89 They also argued that it was inappropriate to ask
about video description, since at the time the Commission did not require that it be provided.90 Campaign
Legal Center et al. argued that this reporting is necessary to ensure station compliance with the
Commission’s closed captioning requirements, and to assist the disability community in finding stations that
offer video description service.91 Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (“TDI”) argued
that the closed captioning reporting requirement should be maintained, stressing the importance of reporting
to the millions of Americans who rely on closed captioning and have difficulty finding such programming.92
TDI also noted that the only current enforcement mechanism for ensuring closed-captioning is based on
consumer reporting and consumer-derived complaints, and that a lack of benchmark reporting has seriously
hampered the effectiveness of the captioning rules and compliance monitoring.93
31. PIPAC now proposes streamlining these reporting requirements. As to closed captioning,
PIPAC proposes that broadcasters be required to disclose whether the reported programming on the form
is closed captioned, and if so, the type of captioning, such as off-line, live, or electronic “newsroom
86 Local electoral affairs programming was defined as “candidate-centered discourse focusing on the local, state and
United States Congressional races for offices to be elected by a constituency within the licensee’s broadcast area.
Local electoral affairs programming includes broadcasts of candidate debates, interviews, or statements, as well as
substantive discussions of ballot measures that will be put before the voters in a forthcoming election.” See Report
and Order, Appendix B, Definitions.
87 With respect to closed captioning, Form 355 also asked about the percentage of each category of nonexempt video
programming, as well as a list of programs that were not captioned due to an exemption and the basis for the
88 Joint Broadcasters Petition at 16-17 (citing Closed Captioning and Video Description of Video Programming,
Report and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 3272, 3383 ¶ 244 (1997), recon. Granted in part, 13 FCC Rcd. 19973 (1998)).
89 See id. at 17.
90 JPTL Petition at 14; BLLP Petition at 12.
91 See CLC Opposition at 8.
92 See id. at 7.
93 See id. at 9.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169technique,” which commonly follows teleprompter scripts.94 It also proposes that broadcasters report on
all programming that is exempt from closed captioning, providing the date, time and length of the
program (excluding commercials), and the reason for the exemption.95 We note that Commission
regulations require all programming – with few exceptions – to be closed captioned as of January 1, 2010,
and therefore expect the latter reporting requirement would presumably not be unduly burdensome.96 We
seek comment on these proposals.
32. PIPAC also recommends implementing reporting requirements regarding video description,
once the new rules mandated by the Communications and Video Accessibility Act go into effect.97 We
note that the Commission recently adopted such rules, requiring the provision of 50 hours per calendar
quarter of video-described prime time and/or children’s programming by full-power affiliates of the top
four national networks located in the top 25 television markets, beginning July 2012.98 We seek comment
on whether and to what extent broadcasters should be required to report on their video description
offerings and, if so, how such a reporting requirement should be framed and implemented, given the
limited nature of this programming requirement and the need for viewers to have access to information
about which programs are video described. Should broadcasters be required to report all of their video
33. Emergency Accessibility Complaints. We seek comment on reporting requirements regarding
emergency accessibility. Question 5 of Form 355, as adopted in the Report and Order, required reporting
with respect to all emergency information and whether that information was available to persons with
disabilities. PIPAC now proposes that broadcasters report only the number of complaints that a station
receives alleging that its emergency programming was not accessible to people with disabilities.99 PIPAC
claims that such reporting will be less burdensome than the requirements in Form 355 but will assist the
public and the Commission in determining the extent to which broadcasters are transmitting emergency
information in a way that can be understood by people with disabilities, as required.100 We recognize that
the fact that a consumer has complained to a station does not necessarily mean that a licensee has violated
a rule, but, as noted by PIPAC, a large number of reported complaints may indicate a compliance issue.101
We seek comment on this proposal, as well as other alternatives.
94 PIPAC ex parte at 3.
95 PIPAC ex parte at 4.
96 47 C.F.R. § 79.1(b).
97 PIPAC ex parte at fn. 31.
98 See Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act
of 2010, MB Docket No. 11-43, Report and Order, 26 FCC Rcd 11847 (Aug. 25, 2011).
99 PIPAC ex parte at 4. 47 C.F.R. § 79.2 requires video programming distributors to make emergency information
that is: 1) provided in the audio portion of the programming to be made accessible to persons with hearing
disabilities by using a method of closed captioning or by using a method of visual presentation; 2) provided in the
video portion of a regularly scheduled newscast, or newscast that interrupts regular programming, to be made
accessible to persons with visual disabilities; or (3) provided in the video portion of programming that is not a
regularly scheduled newscast, or a newscast that interrupts regular programming, to be accompanied with an aural
100 47 C.F.R. § 79.2.
101 PIPAC ex parte at fn.32.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-1693. NCE Exemption
34. The reporting requirements adopted in the Report and Order applied to both commercial and
non-commercial broadcasters.102 In a petition for reconsideration, the Association of Public Television
Stations and the Public Broadcasting Service were joined by noncommercial educational (“NCE”) licensees
(collectively “NCEs”) in arguing that they should be exempted from the standardized disclosure
requirement, so they would not need to divert scarce resources from their core public service activities.103
They argued that Form 355 failed to differentiate between the programming and practices of commercial
and noncommercial television stations.104 NCEs asserted that the Commission has previously recognized
the special status of these stations’ noncommercial programming105 and exempted them from meeting
certain requirements, such as the quarterly children’s program reporting requirement.106 Public television
licensees argued that exempting NCEs from reporting requirements is appropriate given their “long
history of providing vast amounts of programming that is responsive to issues of importance to their local
35. We appreciate that NCE licensees have limited resources and that their mix of programming
may in some instances be more heavily weighted toward the categories of interest in this proceeding than is
the programming on some commercial stations. But the goals underlying this proceeding – facilitating
access to information on how licensees are serving the public interest and local communities, making
broadcasters more accountable to the public, and providing the public with a better mechanism for
reviewing a broadcaster's public interest programming and activities – apply equally to commercial and
non-commercial licensees. In order to standardize the review of television broadcast public interest
programming and activities, we believe it is important to include all television broadcasters. We believe that
much of the concern expressed by the NCE community will be allayed by our proposals only to require
reporting on a sample basis, and to otherwise streamline the form. We seek comment on whether these
measures are sufficient, or whether there are other ways to address NCE licensees’ concerns.
4. Other Reporting Issues
36. General information. We also seek comment on the general information stations should be
required to supply on the form. For instance, PIPAC proposes to streamline the Form 355 to require the
following information: call sign, channel number, facility ID, community of license, city, state, zip code,
legal name of licensee, link to online public file, network affiliation, Nielsen DMA, commercial/NCE
status, contact name and phone, and links to the most recent ownership reports and quarterly children’s
102 Report and Order at ¶ 32.
103 APTS & PBS Petition at 18; APTS and PBS Reply at 1, 2; OETA Petition at 1; PTV Licensees Petition at 6;
JPTP Petition at 3; NCPB Petition at 2, 12.
104 JPTP Petition at 6; APTS & PBS Petition at 13-18. APTS & PBS Reply at 2; OETA Petition at 1; PTV Licensees
Petition at 4; JPTP Petition at 12; NCPB Petition at 12.
105 APTS & PBS Petition at 9 & nn. 10-11 (citing In the Matter of Revision of Program Policies and Reporting
Requirements Related to Public Broadcasting Licensees, Report and Order, BC Docket No. 81-496 (rel. Aug. 22,
1984), at ¶¶ 12-13).
106 APTS & PBS Petition at 19 & n.27 (citing In re Policies and Rules Concerning Children’s Television
Programming; Revision of Programming Policies for Television Broadcast Stations, Report and Order, FCC 96-
355, 11 FCC Rcd 10660 n.119 (Aug. 8, 1996); see also JPTP Petition at 7-8.
107 APTS & PBS Petition at 3.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169programming reports.108 We seek comment on this proposal and on whether it is over or under inclusive.
In addition, if the Commission determines in the Enhanced Disclosure proceeding to host the online
public file, will it be unnecessary to include links to the most recent ownership and children’s television
reports, since that information will be centrally available in the same location as the standardized form?
Should we also require that stations provide their main studio address on the form? Is there any other
general station information that should be included or excluded on the form?
37. Required information for each program and/or segment reported. We seek comment on the
level of detail that should be required for each program or program segment that is reported. For each
entry, PIPAC asserts that broadcasters should disclose: programming/segment title or topic; date/time
aired; whether it aired on a primary or multicast channel; whether the material is first-run programming or
previously aired on this or another station; the approximate length of the segment excluding interstitial
commercials; whether the material reported, or any portion of it, is subject to the disclosure requirements
of the Commission’s sponsorship identification rules, and if so, the sponsoring entity; and whether the
material reported, or any portion of it, is the product of a local marketing agreement, local news service,
or shared service agreement, or any other contractual arrangement or agreement between the licensee and
another broadcast station or daily newspaper located within the licensee’s designated market area, and if
so the relevant agreement in the licensee’s online public file.109 We seek comment on these proposed
reporting elements, including proposed definitions for the agreements and contractual arrangements that
are requested for identification. We seek comment in particular on the benefits of providing any specific
piece of information per segment, as weighed against the burdens imposed on broadcasters by the
requirement. Are any of these requirements overly broad? If so, can they be further defined or described
to narrow the scope of the information required? Should any additional information be required, for
example, a brief description of the program or programming segment and the issue it addresses?
38. Additional reporting. In addition to reporting on the categories discussed above, should
broadcasters also have the option of disclosing other types of programming they provide to serve the
needs and interests of their communities, if they wish to do so?110 Would an optional reporting
opportunity provide useful information to the public and the Commission? Would an opportunity to
include such information allow broadcasters to showcase their programming, or would the option merely
increase the reporting burden? If an optional reporting requirement were adopted, would broadcasters
find a drop-down menu with optional categories to be a useful reporting format?
39. PIPAC asserts that an optional reporting opportunity would allow broadcasters to showcase
community reporting that does not fall into the specified categories.111 They assert that any voluntary
information should be prominently labeled and that the reporting form should include a disclaimer
proclaiming that the absence of voluntary information does not mean that a broadcaster is not providing
such services.112 They recommend the following optional categories: national news, international news,
public service announcements (both paid and unpaid), religious programming, emergency programming,
108 See http://www.savethenews.org/sample-form. This proposed streamlined version eliminates categories included
in the Form 355, including website address; whether the station is publicly held, and if not, its type of ownership;
previous call sign; license expiration date; names of parent companies or affiliates, and whether they are publicly
held; whether the station was transferred; list of primary and non-primary programming streams and their
109 PIPAC ex parte at fn. 28.
110 PIPAC ex parte at 4.
111 PIPAC ex parte at 4.
112 PIPAC ex parte at 4.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169and any other category of programming that a broadcaster believes serves their public interest obligation.
We seek comment on this proposal and any others. Are the optional categories useful, or should the list
be supplemented or reduced? We also seek comment on definitions of the optional categories listed
above as well as any others proposed by commenters.
40. Comments category. We seek comment on whether we should include a “comments”
category, which would allow a licensee to highlight information that it believes is important, but is not
included in the reporting categories. A “comments” category could provide licensees with space to
discuss any mitigating factors or other information relevant to the information provided in the form. For
example, a station that was off the air due to severe weather or technical issues on a day selected for
reporting may wish to note that on its form. This category could also provide licensees with space to
discuss any additional efforts they have made to serve their communities. We seek comment on this
proposal. Would a comments category preclude the need for the type of optional reporting categories
5. Data Format
41. The INC Report suggests that ensuring that as much data as possible is in a standardized,
machine-readable format could enhance the usefulness and accessibility of such data. It recommends that
“online disclosure should be done according to the principles advocated by experts on transparency: in
standardized, machine readable and structured formats.” The INC Report generally notes that information
collected by the government should be in formats “that make it easy for programmers to create new
applications that can present the data in more useful formats, or combine one agency’s information with
another,” and that “data releases should include an Application Programming Interface (API) that allows
the data to be shared easily with other computers and applications.”113 PIPAC supports the INC Report
suggestions, asserting that “an online reporting mechanism that is part of a searchable, integrated database
would not only reduce the burden of submitting this information, it would also provide communities and
researchers with better access to it.”114 PIPAC notes that such a database would allow the public and
researchers to download the data in raw form in its entirety to compare stations’ performances or perform
other analyses.115 It also asserts that such a database should be connected electronically with the
ownership data the Commission already collects, thus reducing further the broadcaster filing burden.116
42. We agree that the new standardized disclosure form should be submitted as machine-
processable in a standardized, machine-readable format that will be searchable so that the material can be
easily analyzed.117 Such a format would help us accomplish the accessibility and accountability goals for
which the form will be created. As recommended in the National Broadband Plan, we believe that as a
113 INC Report at 351.
114 PIPAC ex parte at 2.
117 Machine-readable formats do not require human input to process and interact with the data. See OMB Memo,
September 8, 2011, Informing Consumers through Smart Disclosure, Section IV-B, available at
disclosure.pdf (defining machine readability as “Machine readable data are digital information stored in a format
enabling the information to be processed and analyzed by computer. These formats allow electronic data to be as
usable as possible. Examples of machine readable data include formats that may be readily imported into
spreadsheet and database applications. In contrast, computer files that are simply image reproductions of print
disclosures or that contain only unstructured narrative text generally do not represent machine-readable formats.”)
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169government agency we should make information available in a machine-readable or otherwise accessible
format where possible.118 We seek recommendations on how to implement this goal.
Radio43. Given the Enhanced Disclosure NOI’s genesis in the DTV transition, the Report and Order
was limited to reporting by television stations.119 The Commission later sought comment on
implementing a standardized form requirement for analog and digital radio stations in the Further Notice
of Proposed Rulemaking in the Digital Audio Broadcasting proceeding.120 We believe that we should
eventually require radio licensees to replace their issues/programs lists with a standardized form as well.
We also believe, however, that there may be benefits to requiring television licensees to implement
enhanced disclosure requirements first. Television stations have been significantly more involved in
considering these issues, from the Enhanced Disclosure NOI in 1999 through the 2007 Report and
Order.121 Further, it may ease the initial implementation of a standardized form if we begin the process
with the much smaller number of television licensees. Finally, we foresee that there may be some radio-
specific concerns that we will need to address prior to adopting disclosure requirements for radio stations.
COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS44. In proposing rules to ensure that the public has adequate access to information about how
broadcasters are serving their communities, we intend to look at the many factors involved in an effective
disclosure form in order to ensure that the form serves its intended purpose without posing an undue
burden on industry. There are two key criteria for the success of such an approach.
45. First, acknowledging the potential difficulty of quantifying benefits and burdens, we need to
determine whether a disclosure form will significantly benefit the public and, in fact, clarify important
issues for them. Second, we seek to maximize the benefits to the public while limiting as much as
possible the burden of compliance on broadcasters. These costs and benefits can have many dimensions,
some which may not be easy to quantify, including cost implications for industry, public interest benefits
to viewers, and other less tangible benefits.
46. To address the first criterion, we seek comment on the best ways to ensure that the form
discussed in this NOI will actually benefit the public. We seek comment on the extent to which the
Commission and members of the public may be expected to utilize the additional information compiled in
the form. Further, we seek comment on any considerations regarding the form that would increase the
number of people who will benefit from such rules, and the nature of these benefits. In particular, we
seek comment on the best ways to ensure that information is more readily accessible to the public. We
seek information on whether, and to what extent, the accessibility of a standardized form is greater than
an online issues/programs list. While we believe that a standardized form will increase the accessibility
118 See National Broadband Plan Recommendation 15.3 at pg. 301 (“All data and information that the government
treats as public should be available and easy to locate online in a machine-readable and otherwise accessible format
in a timely manner. . . .”).
119 See¶3 supra; NPRM at fn 7.
120 See Digital Audio Broadcasting Systems and Their Impact on the Terrestrial Radio Broadcast Service, Second
Report and Order, First Order on Reconsideration and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 22 FCC Rcd
10344, 10391 (2007).
121 In the Matter of Public Interest Obligations of TV Broadcast Licensees, Notice of Inquiry, 14 FCC Rcd 21633
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169of information about how television stations serve their communities, we seek further suggestions for
47. To address the second criterion, we seek comment on the nature and magnitude of the costs
and benefits of the new proposals on broadcasters. We recognize that these may vary by broadcaster, and
seek comment on possible differential impacts, including size and type of broadcaster. We seek specific
information about whether, how, and by how much broadcasters may be impacted differently in terms of
the costs and benefits of our proposed rules. In response to the Report and Order several reconsideration
petitioners argued that compliance would be overly burdensome and costly.122 To what extent will the
new proposal to streamline the form and seek sample data impose less or more of a cost than the cost
projections related to Form 355? Will the elimination of the issues/programs list and replacement with a
streamlined disclosure online system reduce or increase burdens on broadcasters? Are there ways to
further decrease costs of a standardized reporting form?
48. To the extent possible, we request comment that will enable us to weigh the costs and benefits
associated with these proposed disclosure rules. We request that commenters provide specific data and
information, such as actual or estimated dollar figures for each specific cost or benefit addressed,
including a description of how the data or information was calculated or obtained and any supporting
documentation or other evidentiary support. We understand that it may be difficult to place a dollar figure
on the benefits of a standardized form, but seek input on the benefits of such a form. We also seek
information regarding the burden of compiling the issues/programs list and to what extent the
standardized form would either reduce or increase the burden on broadcasters. All comments will be
considered and given appropriate weight. Vague or unsupported assertions regarding costs or benefits
generally can be expected to receive less weight and be less persuasive than more specific and supported
Ex Parte Rules49. Permit-But-Disclose. The proceeding this Notice initiates shall be treated as a “permit-but-
disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission’s ex parte rules.123 Persons making ex parte
presentations must file a copy of any written presentation or a memorandum summarizing any oral
presentation within two business days after the presentation (unless a different deadline applicable to the
Sunshine period applies). Persons making oral ex parte presentations are reminded that memoranda
summarizing the presentation must (1) list all persons attending or otherwise participating in the meeting
at which the ex parte presentation was made, and (2) summarize all data presented and arguments made
during the presentation. If the presentation consisted in whole or in part of the presentation of data or
arguments already reflected in the presenter’s written comments, memoranda or other filings in the
proceeding, the presenter may provide citations to such data or arguments in his or her prior comments,
memoranda, or other filings (specifying the relevant page and/or paragraph numbers where such data or
arguments can be found) in lieu of summarizing them in the memorandum. Documents shown or given to
Commission staff during ex parte meetings are deemed to be written ex parte presentations and must be
filed consistent with rule 1.1206(b). In proceedings governed by rule 1.49(f) or for which the
Commission has made available a method of electronic filing, written ex parte presentations and
122 See, e.g., APTS and PBS Petition for Reconsideration at 11; Northern California Public Broadcasting Petition at
123 47 C.F.R. §§ 1.1200 et seq.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169memoranda summarizing oral ex parte presentations, and all attachments thereto, must be filed through
the electronic comment filing system available for that proceeding, and must be filed in their native
format (e.g., .doc, .xml, .ppt, searchable .pdf). Participants in this proceeding should familiarize
themselves with the Commission’s ex parte rules.
Filing Requirements50. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission’s rules, 47 CFR §§ 1.415, 1.419,
interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first
page of this document. Comments may be filed using the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing
System (ECFS). See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, 63 FR 24121 (1998).
Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding,
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary
must be delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325,
Washington, DC 20554. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. All hand deliveries
must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes and boxes must be
disposed of before entering the building.
Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority
Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th
Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille,
large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to email@example.com or call the Consumer &
Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice), 202-418-0432 (tty).
51. Availability of Documents. Comments, reply comments, and ex parte submissions will be
available for public inspection during regular business hours in the FCC Reference Center, Federal
Communications Commission, 445 12th Street, S.W., CY-A257, Washington, D.C., 20554. These
documents will also be available via ECFS. Documents will be available electronically in ASCII,
Microsoft Word, and/or Adobe Acrobat.
52. Additional Information. For additional information on this proceeding, contact Holly Saurer
of the Media Bureau, Policy Division, (202) 418-7283, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169
IT IS ORDEREDthat, pursuant to Sections 1, 4(i), 303, 309, 311 and 403 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. §§ 151, 154(i), 303, 309, 311, and 403, this Notice
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169
CONCURRING STATEMENT OF
COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. McDOWELLRe:
Standardizing Program Reporting Requirements for Broadcast Licensees, MB Docket No. 11-
189, Notice of Inquiry
Two weeks ago, I enthusiastically voted in support of vacating the order that adopted the so-
called “Enhanced Disclosure Form.” In 2007, I cast the sole dissent against the adoption of this
burdensome, excessively regulatory and “overly complex” form, which required quarterly disclosures on
all programming aired in a multitude of categories, such as local and national news, local civic and
electoral affairs programming, public service announcements, religious programming, independently
produced programming and so forth. Today, we commence a proceeding to create an alternative to the
“Enhanced Disclosure Form,” which never went into effect, in part, because of challenges under the
Paperwork Reduction Act.
On the one hand, the proposed replacement form is somewhat less burdensome than its
predecessor. However, the “Enhanced Disclosure Form” set a very low standard. This notice of inquiry
generally recommends that broadcasters report on three categories of programming – local news, local
civic/governmental affairs, and local electoral affairs1 – for a shorter period of time – one or two
composite or actual weeks – within a quarter. On the other hand, while taking steps that reduce burdens
on broadcasters, we propose new reporting requirements regarding sponsorship identifications and shared
service agreements or “any other contractual arrangement or agreement between the licensee and another
broadcast station or daily newspaper” in the licensee’s market area. I have often cautioned that
deregulatory actions by the Commission may be quickly followed by new regulatory proposals.
Moreover, I still have significant concerns about the direction in which the Commission is
headed. Last week, I asked whether we were once again heading down a path towards unnecessarily
burdensome rules, regulatory overreach, Paperwork Reduction Act challenges and unconstitutional
intrusions.2 I fear that we are. In my 2007 dissent to the “Enhanced Disclosure Form,” I stated that
“[t]oday’s highly competitive video market motivates broadcasters to respond to the interests of their
local communities. I question the need for government to foist upon local stations its preferences
regarding categories of programming. While we stop short of requiring certain content, we risk treading
on the First Amendment rights of broadcasters. The First Amendment applies to them too. This form is
government’s not-so-subtle attempt to exert pressure on stations to air certain types of content.”3 The
apprehension I expressed in 2007 is just as relevant, if not more so, in 2011.
Furthermore, it is unfortunate that we do not take this opportunity to comprehensively review the
purpose, mechanism and cost and benefits of broadcaster disclosures regarding programming of interest
1 We also seek comment on whether broadcasters should disclose (1) whether the programming reported on the form
is closed captioned, (2) information about programs that are video described, and (3) the number of emergency
accessibility complaints that a station has received.
Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public Interest
Obligations, MM Docket Nos. 00-168, 00-44, Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking, FCC 11-162, at 40 (rel. Oct. 27, 2011).
Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public Interest
Obligations, MM Docket Nos. 00-168, 00-44, Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 1274, 1322 (2008).
Federal Communications Commission FCC 11-169to their community of license.4 I am also disappointed that my proposed substantive edits were not
incorporated into this notice.5
For these reasons, I concur on this notice of inquiry. Despite the serious reservations I may have,
it is important to develop a full record and allow public comment prior to forming conclusions and
implementing any regulations. As always, I will keep an open mind and look forward to engaging with
interested parties, especially in regard to the necessity and constitutionality of this proposed reporting
requirement. Many thanks to the Media Bureau for its work on this notice of inquiry.
4 I would prefer a notice that provokes a broader discussion of such topics as whether the proposed online
issues/programs list is sufficient to apprise the public of what local broadcasters are airing; whether a standardized
form is, in fact, necessary; whether there are other, less burdensome and costly, means for the community to
evaluate whether broadcasters are serving the public interest; and whether the benefits of a report on programming
of interest to the community outweigh the costs and burdens to the broadcaster amassing that information.
5 These edits included requests for comment on: what standard the Commission should use to determine whether a
particular disclosure is necessary in the public interest; the constitutionality of this reporting requirement and
whether the government is risking promoting some speech while chilling others; the Commission’s authority to
compel the compilation of certain information on a standardized form and whether the accessibility of information
to persons outside the community of license should be a factor in any Commission decision regarding the
appropriate reporting requirement of “community-responsive” programming; whether the standardized form
implemented to report about children’s programming has led to beneficial interaction between the public and local
broadcasters; and the costs of this reporting requirement in terms of the estimated number of hours and employees it
will take to compile the required information and whether resources may be redistributed away from journalistic
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