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Modernizing Television Broadcast Public File Availability

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Released: October 27, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

FCC 11-162

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure
)
Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee
)
MM Docket No. 00-168
Public Interest Obligations
)
)

Extension of the Filing Requirement
)
MM Docket No. 00-44
For Children's Television Programming
)
Report (FCC Form 398)
)

ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION AND FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

Adopted: October 27, 2011

Released: October 27, 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]

By the Commission: Chairman Genachowski; Commissioners Copps and Clyburn issuing separate
statements. Commissioner McDowell approving in part, concurring in part and
issuing a statement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Heading
Paragraph #
I.
INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................................................. 1
II. BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................................... 3
III. ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION...................................................................................................... 7
IV. FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING .................................................................... 10
A. Placing the Public File Online........................................................................................................ 11
1. Commission Hosting of Online Public File. ............................................................................. 15
2. Application of Online Posting Rule to Specific Public File Components. ............................... 22
3. Potential Items to be Added to the Online Public File Requirement. ....................................... 31
4. Format. ...................................................................................................................................... 36
B. Announcements and Links ............................................................................................................. 39
C. Radio............................................................................................................................................... 42
V. COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS.............................................................................................................. 44
A. Online Public File........................................................................................................................... 49
B. Announcements and Links.............................................................................................................. 51
VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS................................................................................................................ 52
A. Regulatory Flexibility Analysis...................................................................................................... 52
B. Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis ................................................................................................ 53
C. Ex Parte Rules................................................................................................................................. 54
D. Filing Requirements........................................................................................................................ 55
VII. ORDERING CLAUSES...................................................................................................................... 59
APPENDIX A List of Petitioners

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APPENDIX B Proposed Rules
APPENDIX C Initial Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
APPENDIX D Re-Codified Rules

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In this Order on Reconsideration and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking we take
steps to modernize the way television broadcasters inform the public about how they are serving their
communities. We vacate the prior Report and Order,1 thereby resolving pending petitions for
reconsideration of that order, re-codify the public file rules in existence prior to adoption of the Report
and Order,
and seek comment on the proposals set forth below. Our goals in this proceeding are to make
information concerning broadcast service more accessible to the public by taking advantage of current
technology, thereby improving dialogue between broadcast stations and the communities they serve, and
if possible reduce the compliance burdens on broadcasters. This item also seeks to further the goal of
modernizing the Commission's processes and expeditiously transitioning from paper to digital technology
in order to create efficiencies and reduce costs both for government and the private sector.
2.
Specifically, we propose to largely replace the decades-old requirement that commercial
and noncommercial television stations maintain a paper public file at their main studios with a
requirement to submit documents for inclusion in an online public file to be hosted by the Commission.
We seek comment on ways to streamline the information required to be kept in the file, such as by
excluding letters and emails from the public. We also propose that we should require that sponsorship
identification, now disclosed only on-air, also be disclosed in the online public file, and propose to require
disclosure online of shared services agreements. We seek comment on what steps we can implement in
the future to make the online public file standardized and database compatible, further improving the
usefulness of the data. The new proposals that the Commission host the online public file and that the
online file largely replace the paper file at the main studio will meet the longstanding goals of this
proceeding, to improve public access to information about how broadcasters are serving their
communities, while at the same time significantly reducing compliance burdens on the stations. We
propose to limit these reforms to television licensees at this time given that this proceeding has always
been limited to television broadcasters. We will consider at a later date whether to apply similar reforms
to radio licensees. Although in this Order on Reconsideration we vacate the standardized television
disclosure form adopted in the 2007 Report and Order, we are addressing in a separate proceeding
whether to adopt a standardized form and what to include in it, as a replacement for the issues/programs
list that television stations currently place in their files.

II.

BACKGROUND

3.
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.2 Broadcasters are
afforded considerable flexibility in how they meet that obligation,3 but they must maintain a public
inspection file, which gives the public access to information about the station's operations and enables
members of the public to engage in an active dialogue with broadcast licensees regarding broadcast


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 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).
3 Id. at 89.
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service.4 Among other things, the public inspection file must contain an issues/programs list, which
describes the "programs that have provided the station's most significant treatment of community issues
during the preceding three month period."5 The original Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in this
proceeding grew out of a prior Notice of Inquiry, which explored the public interest obligations of
broadcast television stations as they transitioned to digital.6 In the 2000 NPRM, the Commission
concluded that "making information regarding how a television broadcast station serves the public
interest easier to understand and more accessible will not only promote discussion between the licensee
and its community, but will lessen the need for government involvement in ensuring that a station is
meeting its public interest obligation."7 The Commission tentatively concluded to require television
stations to use a standardized form to report on how they serve the public interest.8 The Commission also
tentatively concluded to require television licensees to make the contents of their public inspection files,
including the standardized form, available on their stations' Internet websites or, alternatively, on the
website of their state broadcasters association.9 In 2007, the Commission adopted a Report and Order
implementing these proposals.10
4.
Following the release of the Report and Order, the Commission received petitions for
reconsideration from several industry petitioners and public interest advocates. The industry petitioners
raised a number of issues regarding the standardized form and the online posting requirement, generally
contending that the requirements were overly complex and burdensome.11 Public interest advocates argued
that the political file12 should be included in the online public file requirement rather than exempted as
provided in the Report and Order, and that the standardized form should be designed to facilitate the
downloading and aggregation of data for researchers.13 In addition, five parties appealed the Report and


4 Review of the Commission's Rules regarding the Main Studio Rule and Local Public Inspection Files of Broadcast
Television and Radio Stations
, Report and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 15691, 18 (1998), recon. granted in part
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 14 FCC Rcd 11113 (1999).
5 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(12).
6 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)("NOI").
7 NPRM at 1.
8 NPRM at 10.
9 NPRM at 31.
10 In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee Public
Interest Obligations,
Report and Order, 23 FCC Rcd 1274 (2007).
11 Petitions for reconsideration are listed in Appendix A. See, e.g., Association of Public Television Stations and
PBS Petition for Reconsideration ("APTS & PBS Petition") at 3-5; Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership
Petition for Reconsideration at 3,7; Joint Broadcasters Petition for Reconsideration at 18-22; Joint Public Television
Licensees Petition for Reconsideration at 9-10.
12 Sections 73.3526(e)(6), 73.3527(e)(5) and 73.1943 of the Commission's rules require that stations keep as part of
the public inspection files a "political file." 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(6), 73.3527(e)(5), 73.1943. The political file
chiefly consists of "a complete and orderly record ... of all requests for broadcast time made by or on behalf of a
candidate for public office, together with an appropriate notation showing the disposition made by the licensee of
such requests, and the charges made, if any, if the request is granted." 47 C.F.R. 73.1943(a).
13 CLC et al. Petition for Reconsideration at 3-7.
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Order, and the cases were consolidated in the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.14 The
D.C. Circuit granted a petition to hold the proceeding in abeyance while we review the petitions for
reconsideration.15 Challenging the 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.16 Because of the multiple petitions for reconsideration, the Commission has not transmitted
the information collection to OMB for its approval, and therefore the rules adopted in the Report and
Order
have never gone into effect.17
5.
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.18 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 eliminating unnecessary
paperwork and moving toward an online system for public disclosures in order to ensure greater public
access.19 The INC Report also recommended requiring that when broadcasters allow advertisers to dictate
content, they disclose the "pay-for-play" arrangements online as well as on the air in order to create a
permanent, searchable record of these arrangements and afford easy access by consumers, competitors
and watchdog groups to this information.20 The Report also suggested that governments at all levels
collect and publish data in forms that make it easy for citizens, entrepreneurs, software developers, and
reporters to access and analyze information in order to enable mechanisms that can present the data in
more useful formats,21 and noted that greater transparency by government and media companies can help
reduce the cost of reporting, empower consumers, and foster innovation.22


14 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.
Cir.).
15 Order, National Association of Broadcasters v. FCC, Nos. 08-1135 et al. (D.C. Cir.) (July 11, 2008).
16 The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Pub. L. No. 104-13, requires that 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 rules. See 73 FR 13462 (Mar. 13, 2008); 73 FR 30316 (May 27, 2008).
17 See also 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.
18 "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 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.
19 INC Report at 28, 348. The INC Report also recommended that the Commission should eliminate the long-
standing issues/programs list and replace it with a streamlined, web-based form through which broadcasters can
provide programming information based on a composite or sample week. Id. at 28. This recommendation will be
the subject of another proceeding.
20 Id. at 28, 349.
21 Id.at 29, 351.
22 Id. at 28, 360.
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6.
In the Order on Reconsideration, we conclude, in light of the reconsideration petitions we
received with respect to the Report and Order and the comments and replies thereto, that the best course
of action is to vacate the rules adopted in the Report and Order and develop a new record upon which we
can evaluate our public file and standardized form requirements. In this FNPRM we seek comment on
some of the proposals the parties put forth on reconsideration and other ideas as well to improve public
access to information about how broadcasters are serving their communities while minimizing the
burdens placed upon broadcasters. We also invite commenters to suggest any other changes that would
promote these goals and modernize the provision of data to the public. We note that we are only
addressing the online public file requirement in this FNPRM. Due to the complexity of the issues
surrounding the replacement of the issues/programs list with a standardized form, we intend to promptly
issue a separate Notice of Inquiry in a new docket seeking comment on the standardized form. We ask
commenters to limit the comments filed in this docket to those related to the online posting requirement.

III. ORDER ON RECONSIDERATION

7.
We issued the 2007 Report and Order to modernize broadcasters' traditional public file
requirement to improve the public's access to information on how the stations are serving their local
communities. We remain dedicated to that objective and to bringing broadcast disclosure into the 21st
century. Nonetheless, the reconsideration petitions we received from broadcasters and public interest
advocates and the responses thereto have persuaded us to reexamine the balance we struck in 2007
between public access to station information and the burden providing such access imposes on
broadcasters.23 In particular, the Report and Order was based upon an NOI and an NPRM that were
issued over a decade ago, and the record upon which those rules were adopted does not reflect the rapid
technological advances that have occurred over the last ten years. Furthermore, the Report and Order was
issued approximately three and a half years ago, and since then we have seen even more technological
and marketplace changes that may be pertinent to our consideration of broadcasters' public disclosure
obligations. In light of these considerations, we conclude that the best course of action is to take a fresh
look at the policy issues raised in this proceeding.
8.
We further conclude that we should vacate the Report and Order. The rules adopted in
that order cannot take effect without OMB approval of the information collection under the Paperwork
Reduction Act, and we see no reason to undertake that process given our decision to take a fresh look at
the issues. Accordingly, vacating the Report and Order will have no practical effect on any party.


23 Several broadcast petitioners argued that the online public file requirement as adopted was burdensome and
duplicative of material already available on the Commission's website. See generally Broadcasting Licenses
Limited Partnership Petition for Reconsideration, Joint Broadcasters Petition for Reconsideration, and Named State
Broadcasters Petition for Reconsideration. With respect to the standardized disclosure form, several broadcast
petitioners argued that the standardized form as adopted was vague, overly complex and burdensome. See generally
APTS & PBS Petition; Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership Petition for Reconsideration; Joint Broadcasters
Petition for Reconsideration; Joint Public Television Licensees Petition for Reconsideration; Named State
Broadcasters Association Reply; National Association of Broadcasters Reply; Northern California Public
Broadcasting Petition for Reconsideration. Public interest advocates generally supported the form, but also filed a
petition for reconsideration seeking some revisions. See generally CLC et al. Petition for Reconsideration. More
recently, these public interest advocates have proposed a new form that substantially streamlines and revises the
form as adopted. Letter from Angela Campbell and Andrew Schwartzman, counsel for the Public Interest, Public
Airwaves Coalition, to Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC (Aug. 4, 2011)("PIPAC ex parte"). Due to the
multiple and varied objections to the form as adopted, the lack of support generally for the form as originally
adopted, and our concerns about the form's complexity and the burden associated with compliance, we determine
that the best course of action is to vacate the form as adopted and promptly issue a Notice of Inquiry to seek
comment on the newly proposed form, and seek alternatives.
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Moreover, the record compiled thus far in this proceeding will continue to be available to any party going
forward, and it will also be incorporated into the new docket we will create to focus on the standardized
form. In these circumstances, we see no benefit to keeping the Report and Order in place, and by
vacating that decision, we remove any procedural or regulatory uncertainty that might otherwise arise if
we failed to take action to respond to the reconsideration petitions that have been filed while moving
forward to reevaluate the issues.24 Although the 2007 rules never became effective, they appear in the
Code of Federal Regulations ("CFR"), while the pre-existing public file rules, which remain in effect,
were removed from the CFR. For purposes of clarification, these pre-existing public file rules are being
added back to the CFR, as reflected in Appendix D. We believe that it is important to re-codify the
existing rules, so that the CFR reflects the rules in existence at this time, and so that the public and
stations can clearly find the public file and station identification requirements.25
9.
For the foregoing reasons, we grant the petitions for reconsideration that were filed, as
listed in Appendix A, to the extent our vacatur of the Report and Order grants the relief requested by the
petitions. In all other respects, the reconsideration petitions are dismissed as moot. To the extent that the
arguments made in the petitions are relevant to our current proposals, and can inform the new FNPRM,
we discuss them below.

IV. FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULEMAKING

10.
In this FNPRM, we seek input on how to create a modernized online public file
requirement that increases public accessibility while taking into account and reducing where possible the
burdens placed on broadcasters. First, we propose to largely replace the paper public file requirement with
an online public file to be hosted by the Commission. We then seek comment on ways to streamline the
information required to be kept in the file, and whether new items, such as sponsorship identifications26
and shared services agreements,27 should be disclosed online. We also seek comment on what steps we
can implement in the future to make the online public file standardized and database compatible.

A.

Placing the Public File Online

11.
The Commission first adopted a public inspection file rule more than 40 years ago.28 The
public file requirement grew out of Congress' 1960 amendment of Sections 309 and 311 of the
Communications Act of 1934 (the "Act").29 Finding that Congress, in enacting these provisions, was
guarding "the right of the general public to be informed, not merely the rights of those who have special


24 The Commission has inherent authority to revisit its policy determinations at any time, and when it does so, it
"need not demonstrate to a court's satisfaction that the reasons for the new policy are better than the reasons for the
old one; it suffices that the new policy is permissible under the statute, that there are good reasons for it, and that the
agency believes it to be better, which the conscious change of course adequately indicates." FCC v. Fox Television
Stations, Inc.
, 129 S. Ct. 1800, 1811 (2009). For these reasons, we do not believe that the Report and Order in any
way binds or constrains our ability to reexamine our policies based upon an updated record. In the same vein, our
decision to vacate the Report and Order should not be interpreted as an affirmative rejection of the rules or policies
contained therein. Thus, our decision to take a fresh look does not preclude us from deciding that certain aspects of
the Report and Order were correctly decided and should be re-adopted.
25 See Appendix D, reflecting re-codification of 47 C.F.R. 73.1201, 73.3526 and 73.2527.
26 See 33-34, infra.
27 See 35, infra.
28 Report and Order in Docket No. 14864, 4 R.R.2d 1664 (1965); recon. granted in part and denied in part 6 R.R.2d
1527 (1965).
29 47 U.S.C. 309 and 311.
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interests,"30 the Commission adopted the public inspection file requirement to "make information to
which the public already has a right more readily available, so that the public will be encouraged to play a
more active part in dialogue with broadcast licensees."31
12.
A station's public file is currently composed of both items that have to be filed with the
Commission and items that are only available in the public file at the station. The items that have to be
filed with the Commission or are otherwise available on the Commission's website, and their retention
periods, are:

FCC Authorizations (as required by 73.3526(e)(1), 73.3527(e)(1)) (retain until replaced);

Applications and related materials (as required by 73.3526(e)(2), 73.3527(e)(2)) (retain
until final action taken on the application);32

Contour Maps (as required by 73.3526(e)(4), 73.3527(e)(3)) (retain as long as they
reflect current, accurate information regarding the station);

Ownership reports and related materials (as required by 73.3526(e)(5), 73.3527(e)(4))
(retain until a new, complete ownership report is filed with the FCC);33

Portions of the Equal Employment Opportunity file (as required by 73.3526(e)(7),
73.3527(e)(6)) (retain until final action taken on the station's next license
renewal application);

The Public and Broadcasting manual (as required by 73.3526(e)(8), 73.3527(e)(7))
(retain most recent version indefinitely);

Children's television programming reports (Form 398) (as required by 73.3526(e)(11)(iii))
(retain until final action taken on the station's next license renewal application);

DTV transition education reports (Form 388) (as required by 73.3526(e)(11)(iv),
73.3527(e)(13)) (retain one year after last filed).34
The following items are only available at the station:

Citizen agreements (as required by 73.3526(e)(3)) (retain for term of agreement);

Political file (as required by 73.3526(e)(6), 73.3527(e)(5)) (retain for two years);

Portions of the Equal Employment Opportunity file (as required by 73.3526(e)(7),
73.3527(e)(6)) (retain until final action taken on the station's next license


30 Report and Order in Docket No. 14864 at 1666 (citing, e.g., Senate Report No. 690, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., to
accompany S. 1898, "New Pre-Grant Procedure" (Aug. 12, 1969) page 2).
31 Id. at 1667.
32 Applications for a new construction permit granted pursuant to a waiver showing and applications for assignment
or transfer of license granted pursuant to a waiver showing must be retained for as long as the waiver is in effect. In
addition, license renewal applications granted on a short-term basis must be retained until final action has been taken
on the license renewal application filed immediately following the shortened license term. See 73.3526((e)(2),
73.3527(e)(2).
33 See also 47 C.F.R. 73.3613 (specifying the contracts, instruments and documents required to be filed with the
FCC).
34 Stations only need to retain these quarterly reports in their files for one year, and they must only be included
through the quarter in which the station concludes its DTV transition education campaign. See 73.3526(e)(11)(iv),
73.3527(e)(13). While almost all full-power television stations successfully transitioned to digital technology in
2009 and no longer need to retain these files, a few of these stations are not yet operating at full power and continue
to be required to include Form 388 in their files.
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renewal application);

Letters and e-mails from the public (as required by 73.3526(e)(9)) (retain three years from
receipt);

Material relating to FCC investigations and complaints (as required by 73.3526(e)(10),
73.3527(e)(11)) (retain until notified in writing that the material may be discarded);

Issues/Programs lists (as required by 73.3526(e)(11)(i), 73.3527(e)(8)) (retain until notified
in writing that the material may be discarded);

Donor lists for non-commercial educational channels ("NCEs") (as required by
73.3527(e)(9)) (retain for two years from the date of the broadcast of the specific program
reported);

Records concerning children's programming commercial limits (as required by
73.3526(e)(11)(ii)) (retain until final action taken on the station's next license renewal
application);

Local public notice certifications and announcements (as required by 73.3526(e)(13),
73.3527(e)(10)) (retain for as long as the application to which it refers);35

Time brokerage agreements (as required by 73.3526(e)(14)) (retain for as long as contract
or agreement in force);

Must-carry or retransmission consent elections (for commercial stations) or must-carry
requests (noncommercial stations) (as required by 73.3526(e)(15), 73.3527(e)(12))
(retain for duration of election or request period);

Joint sales agreements (as required by 73.3526(e)(16)) (retain for as long as contract
or agreement in force);

Class A TV continuing eligibility documentation (as required by 73.3526(e)(17)) (retain
indefinitely);

A list of chief executive officers or members of the executive committee of an entity
sponsoring or furnishing broadcast material concerning political matter or matter
involving the discussion of controversial issues of public importance (as required by
73.1212(e))36 (retain for two years).
13.
In the Report and Order the Commission required television stations that have Internet
websites to place their public inspection files on their stations' websites and to make these files available
to the public without charge.37 As an alternative, the Commission determined that stations could place
their public inspection files on their state broadcasters association's ("SBA") website, where permitted by
the SBA to do so.38 Several petitioners opposed this requirement, finding it costly and overly
burdensome.39
14.
We continue to believe that making all station public files available online is beneficial to
the public, and necessary to provide meaningful access to the information in the 21st century. The
evolution of the Internet and the spread of Internet access has made it easier to post material online, made
it easier for consumers to read material online, and increased the public policy efficacy of disclosure


35 See also 47 C.F.R. 73.3580(h) (directing placement of certifications and announcements into the public file).
36 This rule allows for the required list to be retained instead at the network headquarters where the broadcast is
originated by the network.
37 Report and Order at 17.
38 Report and Order at 18.
39 See, e.g., BLLP Petition at 15-16; Named State Broadcasters Assn. Petition at 8.
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requirements. As the Commission noted in the Report and Order, by making the file available through the
Internet, we hope to facilitate access to the file information and foster increased public participation in the
licensing process.40 The information provided in the public file is beneficial to consumers who wish to
weigh in on a station's license renewal. We note that the Commission rarely denies license renewal
applications due to the licensee's failure to meet its public interest programming obligation.41 Easy access
to public file information will also assist the Commission, Congress, and researchers as they fashion
public policy recommendations relating to broadcasting and other media issues. Therefore, we tentatively
conclude that television broadcasters should be required to make most of the required documents in their
public inspection files available online, in lieu of maintaining all of the documents in paper files or
electronic format available at their main studios. Currently, the public has access to public inspection
files only by visiting the main studio which may not be convenient -- during regular business hours.
Making the information available online will provide 24-hour access from any location, without requiring
a visit to the station, thereby greatly increasing public access to information on actions a station has taken
to meet its public interest obligation. The Internet is an effective and cost-efficient method of maintaining
contact with, and distributing information to, broadcast viewers. We understand the concerns that
broadcasters have presented regarding the costs necessary to create and host an online public file.42 We
believe that technological advances in the intervening years since this requirement was contemplated,
along with changes to the proposed requirements that are discussed below, in particular the Commission's
proposal to expend its resources and assume the burden of hosting of the public files, will mitigate
broadcasters' concerns. Given the wide-spread availability of internet access and our goal of limiting
costs for broadcasters, we also believe that continuing to require a complete paper public file is largely
unnecessary and that the costs of such a duplicative requirement cannot be justified.
1.

Commission Hosting of Online Public File.

15.
Several participants in this proceeding have expressed concern about the costs required
for broadcasters to create and host their own online public file. A few reconsideration petitioners
suggested that the Commission should instead host the public file on its website, arguing that such a
solution would be less burdensome to licensees, and would also be more efficient, since many public file
items are already filed with the Commission.43 For instance, the Named State Broadcasters Association
argued in its petition for reconsideration that the costs of hosting online public files should be borne by
the Commission instead of individual stations, estimating that this will save broadcasters over $24 million
in first-year costs, and almost $14 million in annual costs thereafter.44
16.
We tentatively agree that the paper public file requirement should be largely eliminated,
and replaced with an online public file requirement hosted on the Commission's website.45 We believe it


40 Report and Order at 12.
41 As noted in the INC Report, "Licenses are routinely renewed . . . . Over the FCC's 75-year existence, it has
renewed more than 100,000 licenses. It has denied only four renewal applications due to the licensee's failure to
meet its public interest programming obligation. No license renewals have been denied on those grounds in past 30
years." INC Report at 25.
42 See generally Named State Broadcasters Assn. Petition; Joint Broadcasters Petition.
43 Named State Broadcasters Assn. Petition at 8; Association of Public TV Stations and PBS Reply at 8.
44 Named State Broadcasters Assn. Petition at 8, citing estimates from one "experienced and well-respected vendor."
We note that since these comments were filed in 2008, those estimates are likely now outdated.
45 While we refer to the paper file throughout this document, we note that in lieu of paper files, stations may
currently make their public inspection file available electronically at the station. See 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(b),
73.3527(b).
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will be more efficient for the public and less burdensome for broadcasters to have all or most of their public
files available in a centralized location. Pursuant to this approach, a member of the public could enter a
station's call sign and access an electronic version of the public file, making the Commission's website a
one-stop shop for information about broadcast television stations. This would be easier for the public than
searching for individual stations' websites, which would have been required under the Report and Order.
Because more than a third of the required contents of the public file have to be filed with the Commission in
our Consolidated DataBase System ("CDBS") under current rules, we propose that we will import and
update any information that must already be filed with the Commission electronically in CDBS to each
station's public file, which will be part of a database of all television station public files on the
Commission's website.46 This will create efficiencies for broadcasters and centralize information for the
public. Under this mechanism, broadcasters would be responsible for uploading only those items not
otherwise filed with the Commission or available on the Commission's website.47 We seek comment on
this proposal.
17.
We believe that requiring broadcasters to upload the required items to their online public
files housed on the Commission website will not be unduly burdensome. With the exception of those
categories discussed below, stations will be required to upload only those types of documents currently
maintained in their public files and ensure that the online file contains all required information. Thus, for
example, if a station does not have time brokerage agreements,48 joint sales agreements,49 or citizen
agreements,50 there would be nothing in these categories for the station to upload, and the station would
merely have to indicate that the category was not applicable. Stations that do have such agreements must
only update them when the agreements change,51 or remove them when the agreements expire. Stations will
also be expected to maintain their online public files actively, making sure they contain information as
required by the public file rules and removing of items that are no longer required to be retained under our


46 A successful upload of a station's public file on the Commission's website would not be considered agency
approval of the material contained in the filing. As with paper public files, the Commission staff would not review
the material placed in each station's online public file for purposes of determining compliance with Commission
rules on a routine basis. Thus, the purpose of online hosting would simply be to provide the public with ready
access to the material.
47 We expect that in order to upload information into its online public file, stations will need to log in, likely with
their FCC Registration Numbers.
48 A time brokerage agreement is a type of contract that generally involves a station's sale of blocks of airtime to a
third-party broker, who then supplies the programming to fill that time and sells the commercial spot announcements
to support the programming. Commercial radio and television stations must keep in their public files a copy of
every agreement involving: time brokerage of that station, or any other station owned by the same licensee. These
agreements must be maintained in the file for as long as they are in force. See "The Public and Broadcasting,"
available at http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/audio/decdoc/public_and_broadcasting.html#_Toc202587580.
49 A joint sales agreement is a type of contract that involves a station's sale of advertising time with that of another
station, whether the agreement involves a station in the same market or different markets. Commercial stations must
keep these agreements in the public file for as long as they are in effect. See 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(16).
50 A citizen agreement is any written agreement that licensees make with local viewers or listeners, that addresses
programming, employment, or other issues of community concern. The station must keep these agreements in the
public file for as long as they are in effect. See "The Public and Broadcasting," available at
http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/audio/decdoc/public_and_broadcasting.html#_Toc202587580.
51 See also 47 C.F.R. 1.65 (making applicants responsible for the continuing accuracy and completeness of
information furnished in a pending application.)
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rules.52 Broadcasters have raised concerns about inclusion of some of the items listed above, such as the
political file and letters and emails from the public. We seek comment on specific issues related to those
items below.
18.
We also propose that stations will need to retain electronic copies for back-up purposes of
all of the public file items to prepare for the unlikely event that the Commission's online public file database
were to become unavailable or disabled. We do not believe that these electronic copies should be made
generally available as an alternative to the Commission-hosted online public file. Therefore, we propose
that such electronic copies need only be available to the Commission, and not the public, unless the online
public file becomes unavailable or disabled for any reason, in which case stations must make their copies
available to the general public in whatever format they choose. Should copies of any items in the public file
be more readily available? For instance, due to the short seven-day deadline to request equal opportunity
appearances, and the importance of candidates having prompt access to the political file, particularly in
the days leading up to an election, should additional steps be taken to ensure that access to the political
file is maintained? Should we require that stations make the back-up political file information available
to candidates, their representatives, and the public at their stations, in whatever format they prefer, at least
in the short term as we gain experience with the files being hosted by the FCC? We note that whatever
requirement we ultimately adopt, stations can continue to make the public file available locally if they
choose to do so. We believe that once all public file documents are available electronically, it will not be
burdensome to keep electronic copies at the station. We also consider it likely that broadcasters would retain
electronic copies of such documents in the ordinary course of business. We seek comment on this proposal,
including estimates of any burden imposed by this requirement. We also seek comment on how long such
copies should be maintained. Should copies be retained for the same length of time that each item must
be retained under our existing rules?
19.
Two petitioners on reconsideration suggested that broadcasters should be permitted to
limit online public file access to viewers within a station's geographic coverage area.53 We see no reason
to limit online access to the public file, and seek comment on this tentative conclusion. As we noted in
the Report and Order, we believe it entirely consistent with Congressional intent in adopting Section 309
of the Act to embrace a public file requirement that enhances the ability of both those within and those
beyond a station's service area to participate in the licensing process.54 Additionally, allowing access to
people within and outside the station's service area creates no additional burden; indeed, limiting it to
local residents would require taking additional steps to screen those seeking access to a particular file. In
addition, limiting access to those in a geographic area would prevent local residents from accessing the
information while they are temporarily outside the region.
20.
Transition. A reconsideration petitioner proposed reducing the burden on licensees by
limiting the online public file to material generated after any new rules become effective, thereby
grandfathering all prior paper filings.55 We do not agree with this proposal. Pursuant to this approach,
only items created after the adoption of the online public file requirement would be required to be
uploaded, not items currently in the paper files. As previously stated, we believe that the one-time
electronic scanning and uploading of existing documents, both from the current licensee and any prior


52 The Commission will also need to create a disposition schedule for retaining documents with the National
Archives and Records Administration.
53 See Joint Broadcasters Petition at 11-13; NAB Opposition at 8. Petitioners did not propose, nor do we have, a
workable mechanism for enacting and enforcing such a proposal.
54 See Report and Order at 13.
55 Joint Broadcasters at 3-6; NAB Opposition at 7.
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licensee,56 would not be unduly burdensome and that adopting a grandfathering approach would be
confusing to those seeking access to the information.57 Those viewing an online public file might remain
unaware of the existence of documents in the paper public file. Moreover, such an approach would
necessitate the continued maintenance of a robust paper file, diminishing the benefits of the online file in
terms of improved public access to information. We seek comment on this view.
21.
Accessibility. In the Report and Order, the Commission determined that television
licensees must make their website public files accessible to people with disabilities.58 Many Petitioners
asked for clarification of this requirement.59 The INC Report noted that the recently passed Twenty-First
Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act will help ensure that people with disabilities will
have access to new media.60 The Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition ("PIPAC") has requested that
the Commission require broadcasters to ensure that the portions of their websites that host the public file
are accessible to people with disabilities.61 Because the Commission is proposing to host all online public
files, we do not believe that such a requirement will be necessary for these purposes. 62 We intend to
ensure that the online public files, like the rest of the Commission's website, are accessible to people with
disabilities. Under Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act, federal agencies must ensure that members of
the public who are disabled and who are seeking information or services from a Federal agency "have
access to and use of information and data that is comparable to the access to and use of the information
and data by such members of the public who are not individuals with disabilities."63 The Commission's
website complies with this law. We invite comment on this matter.
2.

Application of Online Posting Rule to Specific Public File Components.

22.
Political File. In the Report and Order, the Commission excluded the political file from
the website posting requirement, determining that the burden of placing a station's political file online
outweighed the benefit of posting this information, which is most heavily used by candidates and their
representatives.64 In a petition for reconsideration of the Report and Order, CLC et al. asked the


56 See 47 C.F.R. 73.3527(d) (noting that when a transfer occurs, stations are required to retain public file documents
that were created by the prior licensee for the requisite retention period.)
57 We recognize that an implementation plan needs to be developed to enable all television stations to post their
public file documents in an orderly manner, possibly with rolling implementation dates. The Bureau, on delegated
authority, will develop an implementation schedule and provide any necessary guidance regarding implementation
issues at the appropriate time.
58 Report and Order at 27.
59 See Assoc of Public Television Stations and PBS at 2, 22; BLLP Petition at 22; Joint Broadcasters at 8-11; NAB
Opposition at 6-7; Public Television Licensees at 7.
60 INC Report at 359.
61 PIPAC ex parte at 5.
62 While we do not address any website accessibility requirements at this time, we encourage broadcasters to provide
the information currently available on their website in an accessible manner, as well as provide information about
accessible programming, such as that with video description, as part of their efforts to meet the public interest
obligation. Station websites can be a primary source of information for consumers and providing information,
particularly about accessible programming, in an accessible manner would be beneficial to viewers.
63 See 29 U.S.C. 794d(1)(A)(ii).
64 Report and Order at 19-20. The Commission determined that the frequent requests for access by campaigns
and the need for stations to update the file frequently during an election season made an online requirement
inappropriate. The Commission also reasoned that political campaigns generally have greater resources than
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Commission to reconsider the exclusion, contending that the decision focused exclusively on the interests
of the candidates and broadcasters and not the public, researchers, and public interest organizations that
also need to access the files.65 In response, NAB argued that the Commission correctly determined to
exempt stations' political files from the website posting requirement, as this approach is consistent with
the Commission's prior exemption of political files from the requirement that stations make copies of
documents in the public file available to persons that call the station.66 More recently, the Public Interest,
Public Airwaves Coalition ("PIPAC") has argued that placing political file information online will reduce
the burden on broadcasters, who often receive multiple daily in-person requests to access this information
during an election season.67
23.
We propose that the political file should not be exempted from the online public file
requirement. We agree with CLC et al. that the public is entitled to ready access to these important files.
Since exempting the political file in 2007, we have learned that the vast majority of television stations
handle political advertising transactions electronically, through e-mails and a variety of software
applications. As a result, requiring them to make this information publicly available online appears to
impose far less of a burden than previously thought.68 We emphasize, however, that the online political
file would serve as a source of information to candidates, buyers, viewers, and others, but that the actual
purchase of advertising time and the receipt of equal time requests would continue to be handled by the
station. We seek comment on these proposals and the relative burdens and benefits that broadcasters
would face under this requirement. We also seek comment about the logistics of making this file available
online. Our rules currently require that records should be placed in the political file "as soon as possible"
and "as soon as possible means immediately absent unusual circumstances."69 We tentatively conclude
that stations should similarly be required to upload the same records to their online political file
"immediately absent unusual circumstances." Immediacy is necessary with respect to the political file
because a candidate has only seven days from the date of his opponent's appearance to request equal
opportunities for that appearance.70 We also seek comment on methods and procedures that can be
implemented to enable the near real-time upload of political file documents during periods of heightened
activity. Can the Commission assist in making tools available to enable such immediate uploads and
make such immediate filing as non-burdensome as possible?





individual viewers and, therefore, visiting stations would tend to be less burdensome for campaigns organizations.
Id. at 20.
65 CLC et al. at 3.
66 NAB Opposition at 2. The telephone accommodation exemption provides that a station does not have to provide
information about the political file over the phone to anyone who calls requesting such information, and can instead
require individuals to come to the station to review the political file in person. 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(c)(2)(i).
67 Letter from Angela Campbell and Andrew Schwartzman, counsel for the Public Interest, Public Airwaves
Coalition, to Julius Genachowski, Chairman of the FCC at 5 (Aug. 4, 2011)("PIPAC ex parte").
68 In addition, as noted above, our rules do not require stations to accommodate political file requests over the
phone, because such a requirement could disrupt station operations. 47 C.F.R. 3526(c)(2)(i). Requiring stations to
place the public files online would presumably have the opposite effect, reducing, rather than expanding, disruptions
to operations at the station as station personnel would no longer have to process requests for access to this
information in person, as they are currently required to do. Instead of accommodating each candidate or their
campaign representatives personally on a frequent basis, an online requirement would allow a station to upload the
most up-to-date information periodically for all interested parties.
69 See 47 C.F.R. 73.1943(c).
70 See 47 C.F.R. 73.1941(c).
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24.
Finally, we note that the public file rule requires licensees to keep "a complete and
orderly" political file.71 Accordingly, we would expect licensees to upload any political file information
to the online file in an organized manner so that the political file does not become difficult to navigate due
to the sheer number of filings. For an online political file to be useful, candidates and members of the
public must be able to easily find information that they seek. Should the Commission create federal,
state, and local subfolders for each station's political file? Should we allow stations to create additional
subfolders within the political file? For instance, should stations be able to create subdivisions within
federal, state and local races, to reflect individual political races? We seek comment on any other
methods of organization that would make the information more easily accessible, and also lessen the
number of questions that broadcasters would have to field about the contents and organization of the
political file.
25.
Letters from the Public. A station must currently retain in its paper public file all letters
and e-mails from the public regarding operation of the station unless the letter writer has requested that
the letter not be made public or the licensee feels that it should be excluded due to the nature of its
content, such as a defamatory or obscene letter.72 In the 2007 Report and Order the Commission
determined that stations would not be required to post letters from the public on their online public files,
due to the burden and cost.73 The Commission did, however, require that public comments sent by e-mail
to the station be placed in the station's online public file, as the costs of posting correspondence already in
electronic form would be less burdensome on the station than uploading paper comments to electronic
form.74 Several reconsideration petitioners asked that we also exempt e-mail from the posting
requirement, arguing that requiring their inclusion raises privacy concerns.75 They asserted that posting e-
mails from children online may result in violations of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which
prohibits posting children's personally identifiable information online.76 These petitioners also argued
that the Commission oversimplified the costs of such a requirement, since station personnel would need
to review and redact all emails to strip them of personally identifiable information before posting them.77
The public interest community responded that privacy concerns could be ameliorated through the use of
warnings to posters that their submissions would become part of the public file, and that an online form
could be used that conceals personal information.78 More recently, PIPAC recommended that the
Commission eliminate letters and e-mail from the online public file requirement.79 They suggest that in
order to alert members of the public to letters and emails, stations should instead be required to disclose
the total number of letters available at the station and provide a notice that these materials are available
for public viewing at the main studio consistent with existing paper public file rules.


71 See 47 C.F.R. 73.1943(a).
72 See 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(9).
73 Report and Order 25. Stations were still required to retain such letters in the "hard copy" public inspection files,
pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(9).
74 Id.
75 Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership et al. at 21; Joint Broadcasters at 7; Named State Broadcasters Assn. at
10; NAB at 5.
76 Joint Petitioners at 8; Named State Broadcasters Assn. at 11; NAB at 5. See also Children's Online Privacy
Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.
77 Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership et al. at 21.
78 CLC et al. Reply at 6.
79 PIPAC ex parte at 6.
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26.
We propose that letters and e-mails from the public should not be required to be placed
online. We agree that the privacy and burden concerns discussed above are significant enough to merit their
exclusion. Letters and emails from the public that are currently included in the public file, like the rest of
the file's contents, are already publicly available. We recognize that making this information available
online would make it much more readily accessible to the public, but such increased accessibility may not
be expected by viewers who communicate with their stations and may actually make some viewers less
inclined to write to their stations. We seek comment on whether the concerns discussed above justify our
proposal to exempt such communications from the online disclosure requirement. Alternatively, should
we allow or require stations to redact personally identifiable information before posting online? While we
propose that the online public file should largely replace the paper public file, we seek comment on PIPAC's
proposal to require broadcasters to continue to retain copies of such letters at the station for public
viewing in a paper file or an electronic database at their main studios. We envision that such a
requirement would be limited to correspondence, and would not require any other public file information
be publicly available at the station. Would such a correspondence file requirement be limited enough in
scope to justify any additional burdens? We also seek comment on PIPAC's proposal to require stations
to report quarterly on how many letters they have received. What would be the benefits of requiring
stations to count and report how many letters they have received? What would be the burdens of such a
requirement? Should we consider requiring a brief description of the letter(s) received? We seek
comment on these and any other suggestions or proposals that would make letters and e-mails from the
public more easily accessible while at the same time addressing privacy concerns. We also seek comment
on whether stations should have to retain comments left by the public on social media pages, like
Facebook. Should those be considered "written comments and suggestions received from the public
regarding operation of the station"? We tentatively conclude that such information should not be required
to be maintained in the correspondence file. We seek comment on this tentative conclusion. We also seek
comment on whether any other contents of the public file raise similar privacy concerns, such as donor
lists that NCEs must include in the public file, as required by 73.3527(e)(9).
27.
Contour maps. Maps showing stations' service contours are available on the
Commission's website, and are derived from information provided by stations in the CDBS.80 Stations
are also required to include contour maps in their public files; unlike the ones available on the
Commission's website, these include the station's service contours and/or main studio and transmitter
location. In their petition for reconsideration of the Report and Order, the Joint Broadcasters asked
whether the availability of contour maps on the Commission's website is sufficient.81 We believe that the
contour maps available on the Commission's website are sufficient as they provide necessary information
regarding a station's service contours, and seek comment on this issue. We discuss requiring information
about a station's main studio in section 3 below.
28.
The Public and Broadcasting manual. We propose to eliminate the requirement that
stations make available "The Public and Broadcasting" manual in their public files. "The Public and
Broadcasting" is a consumer manual that provides an overview of the Commission's regulation of
broadcast radio and television licensees.82 This manual is already available on the Commission's
website.83 As we look to centralize all public inspection files, we no longer believe it will be necessary
for every station's electronic public file to contain this manual, nor will stations need to keep a copy at the


80 More information on contour maps is available at http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/audio/includes/78-mapinfo.htm.
81 See Joint Broadcasters Petition at 6.
82 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(8), 73.3527(e)(7).
83 Available at http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/audio/decdoc/public_and_broadcasting.html.
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station. Instead, we propose to make "The Public and Broadcasting" prominently available within the
public file portion of the Commission's website once it is created. We seek comment on this proposal.
29.
Issues/programs lists. All broadcasters must currently include in their public files
issues/programs lists covering the current license term, which are a lists of programs that have provided the
stations' most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding quarter.84 In the 2007 Report
and Order,
we noted the deficiencies of the issues/programs lists, and replaced the requirement with a
standardized disclosure form, subject to final OMB approval, as discussed above.85 As noted above, we
have vacated the 2007 Report and Order.86 Although the issues/programs list required under the current
rules provides some information to the public and establishes a record of some of a station's community-
oriented programming, we continue to believe that it suffers from several drawbacks and intend to
promptly a Notice of Inquiry to seek further input on a new standardized form. We propose that
broadcasters should be required to post to their online public file, on a quarterly basis, their issues/programs
lists required under current rules, until the Commission replaces the issues/programs list with a new
standardized form, which we seek to address in an expedited fashion. We seek comment on this proposal.
30.
FCC investigations and complaints. Stations are required to maintain in their public file
material relating to a Commission investigation or complaint.87 A petition for reconsideration of the Report
and Order
suggested excluding from a station's online public file any material that is the subject of an
indecency investigation or complaint.88 The petitioner argued that posting materials related to an
indecency investigation online would be inappropriate, since it is "inconsistent with the purpose of the
Commission's indecency regime, which is to protect children."89 They argued that because children have
easy access to an online public file, but not to a station's paper public file, any material related to
indecency investigations should be available in a station's paper public file only.90 We think it is
important that material relating to indecency investigations not be excluded from the online public file,
given its relevance to the renewal process. We do not believe that making this information available in the
public file portion of the website will increase the risk to children, since the Commission already posts
materials related to indecency investigations on its website. We seek comment on this proposal. We also
seek comment on whether the FCC should post published sanctions, including forfeiture orders, notices of
violation, notices of apparent liability, and citations, in a station's online public file. If so, should
licensees be required to upload their responses, if any, to these FCC actions? We believe that this is the
sort of information that the public would want to find in reviewing a licensee's public file, and is a natural
extension of the requirement to retain FCC correspondence. We note that parties could seek confidential
treatment of particular information in the filings, if necessary.
3.

Potential Items to be Added to the Online Public File Requirement.

31.
The INC Report noted the importance of making online disclosure a pillar of media policy
and the public's need to have a more granular understanding of how broadcasters use their stations and


84 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(11)(i), 73.3527(e)(8).
85 See 3, supra.
86 Id.
87 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(10); 73.3527(e)(11).
88 Joint Broadcasters at 5.
89 Id.
90 Id. at 5-6.
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serve the public.91 Given that we seek to modernize public disclosure requirements, we also seek comment
on adding main studio information, sponsorship identification information, and any sharing agreements to a
station's online public file. While we seek to avoid unduly burdening broadcasters, we do not believe that
this modest expansion of the public file will be burdensome and we believe that this information will be
useful to the public.
32.
Main Studio Information. As discussed above, stations are currently required to include
contour maps in their public files, which must include the station's service contours and/or main studio
and transmitter location.92 The contour maps available on the Commission's website, which we propose
today to fulfill the online public file requirement, does not include main station information. Further, the
Commission does not require the reporting of a station's main studio. We believe this information will
help members of the public to engage in an active dialogue with broadcast licensees regarding its service,
which is one of the goals of this proceeding, and will also assist in the identification of broadcasters that
are engaging in shared services arrangements. We therefore propose that in the Commission-maintained
online public file, the station's main studio address and telephone number be displayed. For stations with
a main studio waiver, we propose that the location of the local file and the required toll free number
should be listed. We seek comment on this proposal, as well as whether we should require the posting of
an e-mail address that will serve as a station contact for the public file.
33.
Sponsorship Identifications. Section 317 of the Communications Act requires that
broadcasters disclose to their listeners or viewers if a matter has been aired in exchange for money,
services, or other valuable consideration.93 The Commission's sponsorship identification rules currently
require that stations provide an on-air disclosure when content is paid for, furnished, or sponsored by an
outside party.94 The INC Report discussed examples of "pay-for-play" arrangements at local TV stations,
where "advertisers have been allowed to dictate, shape or sculpt news or editorial content."95 The INC
Report
expressed concern that this practice could have negative implications for the community's trust in
local TV.96 The INC Report recommended that the Commission require that the on-air disclosures for such
"pay-for-play" arrangements, which are already required to be disclosed on-air, be available online,
perhaps as part of the public file, in order to create a permanent, searchable record of which stations use
these arrangements and to afford easy access by consumers and watchdog groups to this information.97
PIPAC has recently recommended that, when a broadcaster airs news or information programming that
would require an on-air disclosure of a sponsor under the FCC sponsorship identification rules, the
licensee should also post that information in its online public file.98
34.
With the exception of sponsored political advertising and certain issue advertising, the
Commission only requires that the sponsorship identification announcement occur once during the


91 INC Report at 28, 349.
92 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(4); 73.3527(e)(3).
93 See 47 U.S.C. 317.
94 See 47 C.F.R. 73.1212.
95 INC Report at 349.
96 Id.
97 INC Report at 349.
98 PIPAC ex parte at 5.
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programming and remain on the screen long enough to be read or heard by an average viewer.99 Section
317 requires stations to announce sponsorship information during the programming, and the
implementing rule has long had an additional public file recordkeeping component for political and
controversial issue announcements.100 The Commission has explained that such recordkeeping furthers
the rule's underlying purpose.101 Given the fleeting nature of all disclosures, we believe it would also be
useful to include such on-air disclosures in television broadcasters' online public file obligations, by
requiring stations to list such sponsors in their online public file. Requiring a list of sponsors will create
an accessible record of such sponsorships, and will allow interested parties to keep track of the number
and extent of such sponsorships. We believe that such a list will further a central principle of the rule,
which is that "listeners are entitled to know by whom they are being persuaded."102 We seek comment on
this proposal, and on our authority to impose such a requirement. We also seek input on how burdensome
this requirement would be for broadcasters. This information must already be collected and disclosed on
the air. What additional burden would be involved in listing the sponsors of such disclosures in the online
public file? While the INC Report only suggests the online disclosure of sponsorship identification of
news programming, we do not propose to limit disclosure to certain types of programming, but to include
all sponsorships that require a special on-air disclosure. However, sponsorship identification
announcements which are exempted under current rules, such as in situations involving commercial
product advertisements where it's clear that the product is a sponsorship, will not need to be included in
the online disclosures.103 We are only proposing to make disclosures currently required by Section 317
and our rules more accessible. We seek comment on this proposal, including how long broadcasters
should be required to retain this information.
35.
Sharing Agreements. PIPAC has recently recommended that sharing agreements among
licensees, such as local news sharing and shared services agreements, should be available in the public
file.104 Sharing agreements are contracts between licensees where one licensee provides certain station-
related services to another station, including administrative, sales, and/or programming support, in order
to obtain certain efficiencies.105 PIPAC notes that the INC Report found that some stations are
outsourcing their news production or engaging in other forms of cooperative newsgathering.106 PIPAC
argues that unless such agreements are available online it will be extremely difficult for members of the
public, or the Commission, to learn about such agreements, which affect control of the station and


99 Political broadcast matter or any broadcast matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public
importance longer than five minutes "for which any film, record, transcription, talent, script, or other material or
service of any kind is furnished...to a station as inducement for the broadcasting of such matter" requires a
sponsorship identification announcement both at the beginning and the conclusion of the broadcast programming
containing the announcement. 47 C.F.R. 73.1212(d).
100 47 U.S.C. 317(a)(1); 47 C.F.R. 73.1212(e). See also KGVO Broadcasting Inc., 9 FCC Rcd 6396 (1994).
Section 315(e) of the Act includes a similar requirement to place a list of executives of a sponsoring entity in the
political file for certain political matter. 47 U.S.C. 315(e)(2)(G). This matter includes, among other things, a
national legislative issue of public importance. See 47 U.S.C. 315(e)(1)(B)(iii).
101 Amendment of the Commission's `Sponsorship Identification' Rules, 52 FCC 2d 701, 711 30 (1975).
102 See Applicability of Sponsorship Identification Rules, Public Notice, 40 FCC 141, 141 (1963).
103 See 47 C.F.R. 73.1212(f).
104 Id.
105 Some sharing agreements can affect at the Commission's attribution rules, which define what interests are
counted for purposes of applying the Commission's broadcast ownership rules. See generally 47 C.F.R. 73.3555.
106 Id. at 5, citing INC Report at 96-97.
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production of local news and other programming. We note that the Commission already requires the
disclosure of certain sharing agreements, such as time brokerage and joint sales agreements.107 We seek
comment on whether disclosure of these similar agreements would serve the public interest, and whether
stations should be required to disclose such items in their online public file. We seek comment on
whether such agreements should be subject to the same redaction allowances that are made available to
joint sales agreements and time brokerage agreements.108 We also seek comments on the burdens of
adopting such a requirement.
4.

Format.

36.
The INC Report finds that information "needs to be put out in standardized, machine-
readable, structured 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."109 With respect to broadcasters' public files in particular,
the INC Report states that "[o]nline disclosure should be done according to the principles advocated by
experts on transparency: in standardized, machine readable and structured formats."110
37.
We agree that some of the information in the public file would be of much greater benefit
to the public if made available in a structured or database-friendly format that can be aggregated,
manipulated, and more easily analyzed.111 That is our ultimate goal. We recognize, however, that
converting the files to this format will take time and money. We tentatively conclude that we should not
delay the benefits of having the public file available online, and therefore propose to not require
broadcasters to alter the form of documents already in existence prior to posting them to the online public
file at this time. However, we seek comment here on issues we should consider in the implementation of
such an advanced database. Would the investment and effort to establish a searchable database yield
improvement from simply having the broadcasters post the documents online in their current format?
What steps would need to be taken in order to ensure the uploading of searchable documents by the
broadcasters could be accomplished in a non-burdensome way? We believe that further consideration of
the issue may lead to creation of more useful tools to analyze the information produced in the online
public file. We seek comment, however, on whether broadcasters should be required to upload any
electronic documents in their existing format to the extent feasible. For example, to the extent that a
required filing already exists in a searchable format such as Microsoft Word ".doc" format or non-copy
protect text-searchable "pdf" format for text filings, or "native formats" such as spreadsheets in Microsoft
".xml" format for non-text filings should broadcasters be expected to upload the filing in that format to
the extent technically feasible?112 We believe that requiring broadcasters to do so could increase usability


107 See 73.3526(e)(14), (e)(16). See also 47 C.F.R. 73.3613(b), (c) (requiring stations to disclose agreements
when they relate to control of a licenses or involve management consulting or similar agreements).
108 47 C.F.R. 73.3526(e)(14), (e)(16).
109 Id. at 207.
110 INC Report at 348.
111 We note that the Commission is part of the Task Force on Smart Disclosure: Information and Efficiency in
Consumer Markets, established by the National Science and Technology Council Committee on Technology, which
is investigating best practice approaches to "smart disclosures," which are disclosures to consumers that are
accessible and usable, such as in electronic, machine readable formats. See
http://wiki.citizen.apps.gov/SmartDisclosure/images/5/55/NSTC_Charter_v15-25-11.pdf.
112 See Amendment of the Commission's Ex Parte Rules and Other Procedural Rules, GC Docket No. 10-43, Report
and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
, FCC 11-11, 26 FCC Rcd 4517, 4530-31 (2011).
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and facilitate text searches. Should we require that documents created after the effective date of rules
adopted in this proceeding be posted in a searchable format? Would such a requirement be unduly
burdensome? To the extent documents are filed in a non-searchable format, should the Commission
digitize the documents and perform optical character recognition ("OCR")? Given that native and
primary electronic formats are more reliable than OCR, we believe that it will be in every station's best
interests to provide documents in native and primary electronic formats to the extent feasible.
38.
We also seek comment on what metadata should be made available in the online public
file. Should users be able to access when each item was uploaded to the file? Should we also make
available metadata about who uploaded the item? Are there concerns about metadata disclosures for
confidential or privileged information? If so, what steps should the Commission and stations take to
manage these concerns?

B.

Announcements and Links

39.
In the 2007 Report and Order, the Commission determined that viewers should be notified
of the existence, location, and accessibility of the station's public file, as this would increase viewer
awareness and help promote the ongoing dialogue between a station and the viewers it is licensed to
serve.113 Therefore, the Commission required that licensees provide such notice on-air twice daily during
the regular station identification announcements required under our rules,114 with at least one
announcement to be aired between 6 p.m. and midnight.115 Reconsideration petitioners argued that twice
daily announcements were excessive.116 Public television stations argued that television station
identifications are very limited in length, and that the Report and Order did not provide a reason for
changing course from the tentative conclusion made in the NPRM that the Commission should not require
announcements. They proposed that the Commission reduce this requirement to a few times a week, at
most.117
40.
We continue to believe that viewers should be notified of the existence, location, and
accessibility of the station's public file; if most viewers are unaware of the existence of the public file or
how to access it, its usefulness will be greatly diminished. We seek comment on how best to achieve this
goal. Would requiring on-air announcements a few times a week be sufficient? Should we dictate day
part requirements for certain announcements to be sure a large number of viewers are reached? We
propose that stations be required to announce the existence, location, and accessibility of the station's
public file three times a week as part of the station identification. We also propose that the notice state
that the station's public file is available for inspection and that consumers can view it at the Commission's
website, and that at least one of the announcements must occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight.
We seek comment on these proposals.
41.
PIPAC proposes that a link to the online public file appear on a broadcaster's home page,
along with contact information for people with disabilities to use if they have concerns.118 They note that
for a person with disabilities already struggling with an inaccessible site, the burden of searching through


113 Report and Order at 31.
114 See 47 C.F.R. 73.1201.
115 Report and Order at 31.
116 Joint Public Television Petitioners at 18 and NAB at 8.
117 Joint Public Television Petitioners at 18.
118 PIPAC ex parte at 5.
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several pages or levels becomes an insurmountable barrier. We tentatively agree that stations that have
websites should be required to place a link to the public file on their home page, not just to assist the
disabled community, but to assist all members of the public who are looking for more information about a
licensee. We seek comment on PIPAC's proposal that stations also list on their home page contact
information for people with disabilities. What types of contact information would be most useful?

C.

Radio

42.
Given this proceeding's genesis in the DTV transition, the Report and Order was limited
to television stations.119 The Commission later sought comment on implementing an online public file
requirement for analog and digital radio stations in the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the
Digital Audio Broadcasting proceeding.120
43.
This FNPRM, like all other items in this docket, is directed toward television
broadcasters. We may consider requiring radio licensees to abide by similar reforms to their public file
requirements at a later date. We believe, however, that there are benefits to requiring television licensees
to implement enhanced disclosure requirements first. Television stations have been significantly more
involved in considering these issues, from the NOI in 1999 through the 2007 Report and Order.121
Further, it may ease the initial implementation of a Commission-hosted online public file if we begin the
process with the much smaller number of television licensees than with all broadcasters. Finally, we
foresee that there may be some radio-specific concerns that we will need to address prior to implementing
an online public file requirement on radio stations. We thus tentatively conclude not to include radio
licensees in this proceeding.

V.

COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS

44.
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 effective
enhanced disclosure. This will ensure that the rules serve their 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 the proposed disclosure rules will significantly benefit the public. Second, we seek
to maximize the benefits to the public from our proposed rules while taking into consideration the burden
of compliance on broadcasters. These costs and benefits can have many dimensions, 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 forms
of disclosure discussed in this FNPRM will actually benefit the public. While most of the information to
be included in the online public file is largely the same as information already being provided in the paper
file, we seek comment on the value and use of the potential items to be added to the online public file, as
discussed above. Further, we seek comment on any considerations regarding the manner in which our
proposals could be implemented that would increase the number of people who will benefit from such


119 See2 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
(1999).
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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. While we believe that the proposed rules will
increase its accessibility, by replacing the paper version of the public file with an online version, we seek
further suggestions for increasing accessibility.
47.
To address the second criterion, we seek comment on the nature and magnitude of the
costs and benefits of our new streamlined proposals. 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. We also seek comment on the most cost-effective
approach for modifying existing policies and practices to achieve the goals of this proceeding.
48.
To the extent possible, we request comment that will enable us to balance the positive
benefits of these proposed disclosure rules with the costs that they may impose on broadcasters. We
recognize that costs and benefits will vary depending on the specific documents and format we require
broadcasters to submit for inclusion in an online public file to be hosted by the Commission. A rule that
documents may be uploaded in any format will likely impose minimal burdens on broadcasters as
compared to a requirement that only documents in standardized formats will be accepted, as at least some
broadcasters may need to recreate or reformat their documents prior to submission. The benefit the public
reaps from access to information about how broadcasters are serving their communities will similarly
vary depending on the specific documents and formats we require broadcasters to submit. Information
that is submitted in non-standardized formats will be useful to members of the public who are interested
in only one or a few television stations. Researchers, however, need access to standardized data that are
aggregable and searchable in order for the data to be useful in their analyses of industry performance. 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. 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
statements.

A.

Online public file

49.
While it may be difficult to quantify the benefits of an online public file requirement, we
seek comment on ways to do so. Is there a way to quantify the value of improving the quality of
information presented to consumers? We also seek comment on the costs, which should be much more
quantifiable. We received cost data from the commenters and petitioners in response to the NPRM and
discussed them in the Report and Order.122 Given the technological advances since these estimates were
created, the fact that the Commission is contemplating becoming the host of the online public file
requirement, and that we are proposing to modify the required materials to be posted to the file, we seek
updated cost estimates. Because most of the items that we are seeking to include in the online public file
are already available in an electronic format, and because we are proposing to largely eliminate the paper
public file, we believe that the costs of uploading these files to the online public file will be less
burdensome than originally anticipated.
50.
We seek to weigh the costs of an online public file requirement against the benefits to the
public of Internet accessibility of the information. It is beneficial for the community to have Internet


122 See, e.g., Comments of Benedek Broadcasting et al at 3; Comments of State Broadcasters Associations at 21;
Reply Comments of STC at 5; Comments of Viacom at 25-26; Comments of NAB at 22.
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access to information it may not otherwise be able to obtain. Making information available in the online
public file will educate consumers on issues that they might not otherwise know about, absent an ability
to visit a station to inspect the public file, and will assist consumers in educating themselves about the
licensee and its programming. Making this information readily accessible will also assist the Commission
and Congress in formulating public policy about broadcasting and other media issues. As discussed in
previous Orders, the Commission has found that each of the items required to be placed in the public file
is important, and needs to be accessible to the public.123 Internet access to such information improves
public access and reduces some burdens on broadcasters. As discussed throughout the FNPRM, we seek
comment on further ways to relieve burdens on broadcasters in creating the online public file requirement.
Should we consider creating different requirements for small television broadcasters?

B.

Announcements

51.
Finally, we seek to quantify the costs and benefits associated with notifying the public of
the existence, location, and accessibility of the station's public file. The benefits of such a requirement,
increasing viewer awareness and helping promote the ongoing dialogue between a station and the viewers
they are licensed to serve, are difficult to quantify, but we seek comment on how to do so. We also seek
comment on the projected costs of such announcements. Would requiring three announcements a week
be a justifiable burden on broadcasters? Is the amount of the burden affected by the time of day that the
announcement is made?

VI. PROCEDURAL MATTERS

A.

Regulatory Flexibility Analysis

52.
As required by the RFA,124 the Commission has prepared an Initial Regulatory Flexibility
Analysis ("IRFA") relating to this NPRM. The IRFA is attached to this FNPRM as Appendix C.

B.

Paperwork Reduction Act Analysis

53.
This document contains proposed information collection requirements. The Commission,
as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of
Management and Budget (OMB) to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this
document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.125 In addition, pursuant to the Small
Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002,126 we seek specific comment on how we might "further reduce
the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees."127

C.

Ex Parte Rules

54.
Permit-But-Disclose. This proceeding will be treated as a "permit-but-disclose"


123 See, e.g., Review of the Commission's Rules Regarding the Main Studio and Local Public Inspection Files,
Report and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 15691 (1998); Amendment of Sections 73.1125 and 73.1130 of The Commission's
Rules
, Report and Order, 2 FCC Rcd 3215 (1987).
124 See 5 U.S.C. 603.
125 Pub. L. No. 104-13.
126 Pub. L. No. 107-198.
127 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4).
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proceeding subject to the Commission's ex parte rules.128 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 memoranda 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.

D.

Filing Requirements

55.
Comments and Replies. Pursuant to Sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's
rules,129 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").130

Electronic Filers: Comments may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the
ECFS: http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs2/.

Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one 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.
o 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 must
be disposed of before entering the building.
o 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.


128 47 C.F.R. 1.1200 et seq.
129 See id. 1.415, 1.419.
130 See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, GC Docket No. 97-113, Report and Order, 13
FCC Rcd 11322 (1998).
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o U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445
12th Street, SW, Washington DC 20554.
56.
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.
57.
Accessibility Information. To request information in accessible formats (braille, large
print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to fcc504@fcc.gov or call the FCC's Consumer and
Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY).
58.
Additional Information. For additional information on this proceeding, contact Holly
Saurer of the Media Bureau, Policy Division, (202) 418-7283, or via email at holly.saurer@fcc.gov.

VII. ORDERING CLAUSES

59.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that pursuant to the Sections 4(i), 303 and 405 of the
Communications Act, 47 U.S.C 154(i), 303, and 405, the Report and Order released on January 24,
2008 in the above captioned proceeding is VACATED on our own motion, and 47 C.F.R. 73.1201(b),
3526(b) and (e)(11) and 3527(b) and (e)(8) will be re-codified consistent with Appendix D.
60.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that pursuant to sections 4(i), and 405 of the
Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 154(i) and 405, and section 1.106 of the
Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.106, the Petitions for Reconsideration filed by the petitioners listed in
Appendix A ARE HEREBY GRANTED IN PART AND ARE OTHERWISE DISMISSED AS MOOT.
61.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1, 2,
4(i), 303, and 307 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C 151, 152, 154(i), 303, and 307, this Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
is ADOPTED.
62.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs
Bureau, Reference Information Center, SHALL SEND a copy of this Further Notice of Proposed
Rulemaking
, including the Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of
the Small Business Administration.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
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APPENDIX A

Petitions for Reconsideration

Association of Public Television Stations and the Public Broadcasting Service ("APTS and PBS")
Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership; Davis Television Clarksburg; Davis Television Wausau;
Eagle Creek Broadcasting of Corpus Christi; Eagle Creek Broadcasting of Laredo; Educational
Broadcasting Corporation; Journal Broadcast Corporation; Multicultural Television Broadcasting;
Mountain Licenses; Ramar Communications Ltd; Sarkes Tarzian; Shooting Star Broadcasting;
Stainless Broadcasting; Televicentro of Puerto Rico; Western Kentucky University; and WQED
Multimedia (collectively "Broadcasting Licenses Limited Partnership et al.")
Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Common Cause, Benton Foundation, and New America Foundation
("CLC et al.")
Block Communications; Cocola Broadcasting; Communications Corporation of America; Cox
Broadcasting; ION Media Networks; Jovon Broadcasting; Local TV LLC; McGraw-Hill
Broadcasting.; and Meredith Corporation (collectively "Joint Broadcasters")
Joint Public Television Petitioners
Named State Broadcasters Associations
Northern California Public Broadcasting, Inc ("NCPB")
Oklahoma Educational Television Authority ("OETA")
Public Television Licensees
KHRP-LP*

Oppositions to Petitions for Reconsideration

CLC et al.
National Association of Broadcasters ("NAB")
Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc., the National Association for the Deaf, and
the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Consumer Advocacy Network ("TDI et al.")

Replies to Petitions for Reconsideration

APTS and PBS
CLC et al.
Named State Broadcaster Associations
NAB
* late filed
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APPENDIX B

Proposed Rules

Part 73 of Title 47 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations is amended to read as follows:
PART 73 RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES
1.
The Authority citation for Part 73 continues to read as follows:
AUTHORITY: 47 U.S.C. 154, 303, 307, and 554.
2.
Section 73.1201 is amended by adding 73.1201(b)(3) as follows:
73.1201 Station identification.
*
*
*
*
*
(b) Content.
*
*
*
*
*
(3) Three times a week, the station identification for television stations must include a notice stating
that the station's public file is available for viewing at the FCC's website. At least one of the
announcements must occur between the hours of 6 p.m. and midnight.
3.
Section 73.1212 is amended by deleting "by the licensee" in the second to last sentence of
73.1212(e) to read as follows:
(e) The announcement required by this section shall, in addition to stating the fact that the
broadcast matter was sponsored, paid for or furnished, fully and fairly disclose the true identity of the
person or persons, or corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other
entity by whom or on whose behalf such payment is made or promised, or from whom or on whose
behalf such services or other valuable consideration is received, or by whom the material or services
referred to in paragraph (d) of this section are furnished. Where an agent or other person or entity
contracts or otherwise makes arrangements with a station on behalf of another, and such fact is known
or by the exercise of reasonable diligence, as specified in paragraph (b) of this section, could be
known to the station, the announcement shall disclose the identity of the person or persons or entity
on whose behalf such agent is acting instead of the name of such agent. Where the material broadcast
is political matter or matter involving the discussion of a controversial issue of public importance and
a corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group, or other entity is paying for or
furnishing the broadcast matter, the station shall, in addition to making the announcement required by
this section, require that a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee
or of the board of directors of the corporation, committee, association or other unincorporated group,
or other entity shall be made available for public inspection at the location specified under 73.3526
of this chapter. If the broadcast is originated by a network, the list may, instead, be retained at the
headquarters office of the network or at the location where the originating station maintains its public
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inspection file under 73.3526 of this chapter. Such lists shall be kept and made available for a
period of two years.
4.
Section 73.1943 is amended by adding 73.1943(d) to read as follows:
73.1943 Political File.
*
*
*
*
*
(d) Location of the file. A television station licensee or applicant must also place all of the contents of its
political file on the Commission's website. This electronic political file must be updated in the same
manner as subsection (c) above.
5.
Section 73.3526 is amended by revising 73.3526(b) and adding (e)(18) and (e)(19) to read
as follows:
73.3526 Local public inspection file of commercial stations.
*
*
*
*
*
(b) Location of the file. The public inspection file shall be located as follows:
(i) For radio licensees, a hard copy of the public inspection file shall be maintained at the main studio of
the station. For television licensees, letters and emails from the public, as required by subsection (e)(9)
below, shall be maintained at the main studio of the station. An applicant for a new station or change of
community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the proposed community of license or at its
proposed main studio.
(ii) A television station licensee or applicant shall place the contents required by subsection (e) below of
its public inspection file on the Commission's website, with the exception of letters and emails from the
public as required by subsection (e)(9) below, which will be retained at the station in the manner
discussed in subsection (i) above. A station must link to the public inspection file hosted on the
Commission's website from the home page of its own website, if the station has a website.
(iii) The Commission will automatically link the following items to the electronic version of all licensee
and applicant public inspection files, to the extent that the Commission has these items electronically:
authorizations, applications, contour maps; ownership reports and related materials; portions of the Equal
Employment Opportunity file held by the Commission; the public and broadcasting; Children's television
programming reports; and DTV transition education reports. In the event that the online public file does not
reflect such required information, the licensee will be responsible for posting such material.
*
*
*
(18) Sharing agreements. For commercial television stations, a copy of every agreement or contract
involving sharing agreements for the station, including local news sharing agreements and shared services
agreements, whether the agreement involves stations in the same markets or in differing markets, with
confidential or proprietary information redacted where appropriate.
*
*
*
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(19) Sponsorship identifications. For commercial television stations, a list of all sponsorship
identifications that must be announced on-air pursuant to 47 C.F.R. 73.1212.
*
*
*
*
*
6.
Section 73.3527 is amended by revising 73.3527(b) to read as follows:
73.3527 Local public inspection file of noncommercial educational stations.
*
*
*
*
*
(b) Location of the file. The public inspection file shall be located as follows:
(i) For radio licensees, a hard copy of the public inspection file shall be maintained at the main studio of
the station. For television licensees, letters and emails from the public, as required by subsection (e)(9)
below, shall be maintained at the main studio of the station. An applicant for a new station or change of
community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the proposed community of license or at its
proposed main studio.
(ii) A television station licensee or applicant shall place the contents of its public inspection file on the
Commission's website, with the exception of letters and emails from the public, which will be retained at
the station in the manner discussed in subsection (i) above. A station must link to the public inspection
file hosted on the Commission's website from the home page of its own website, if the station has a
website.
(iii) The Commission will automatically link the following items to the electronic version of all licensee
and applicant public inspection files, to the extent that the Commission has these items electronically:
contour maps; ownership reports and related materials; portions of the Equal Employment Opportunity file
held by the Commission; and the public and broadcasting.
*
*
*
*
*
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APPENDIX C

Initial Regulatory Flexibility Act Analysis

1.
As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended ("RFA"),
1 the Commission has prepared this present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis ("IRFA") concerning
the possible significant economic impact on small entities by the policies and rules proposed in the
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("FNRPM") portion of this Order on Reconsideration and
Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking ("ORFNPRM"). Written public comments are requested on this
IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for
comments provided on the first page of the ORFNPRM. The Commission will send a copy of the
ORFNPRM, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business
Administration ("SBA").2 In addition, the ORFNPRM and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published
in the Federal Register.3

A.

Need for, and Objectives of, the Proposed Rule Changes

2.
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. Broadcasters are afforded
considerable flexibility in how they meet that obligation. Among other things, they are required to
maintain a public inspection file, which gives the public access to information about the station's
operations. 4 The FNPRM seeks to make information regarding how a television broadcast station serves
the public interest easier to understand and more accessible.
3.
The FNPRM seeks comment on rule changes that would:

replace the requirement that television stations maintain a paper public file at their main studios
with a requirement to submit documents for inclusion in an online public file, including the
political file, to be hosted by the Commission;

reduce the number of documents that television stations would be required to upload to an online
public file, by automatically linking to information already collected by the Commission;

streamline the information required to be kept in the file, such as by excluding letters and emails
from the public;

require that sponsorship identification, now disclosed only on-air, should also be disclosed online,
and require disclosure of online shared services agreements; and

make the online public file standardized and searchable, further improving the usefulness of the
data.

B.

Legal Basis

4.
The proposed action is authorized pursuant to Sections 1, 2, 4(i), 303, and 405 of the
Communications Act, 47 U.S.C 151, 152, 154(i), 303, and 405.


1 See 5 U.S.C. 603. The RFA, see 5 U.S.C. 601 612, has been amended by the Small Business Regulatory
Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (SBREFA), Pub. L. No. 104-121, Title II, 110 Stat. 857 (1996).
2 See 5 U.S.C. 603(a).
3 See id.
4 Review of the Commission's Rules regarding the Main Studio Rule and Local Public Inspection Files of
Broadcast Television and Radio Stations
, Report and Order, 13 FCC Rcd 15691, 18 (1998), recon. granted in
part
Memorandum Opinion and Order, 14 FCC Rcd 11113 (1999).
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C.

Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules
Will Apply

5.
The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of and, where feasible, an estimate of
the number of small entities that may be affected by the proposed rules, if adopted.5 The RFA generally
defines the term "small entity" as having the same meaning as the terms "small business," "small
organization," and "small governmental jurisdiction."6 In addition, the term "small business" has the
same meaning as the term "small business concern" under the Small Business Act.7 A small business
concern is one which: (1) is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of
operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the SBA.8 Below, we provide a
description of such small entities, as well as an estimate of the number of such small entities, where
feasible.
6.
Television Broadcasting. The SBA defines a television broadcasting station as a small
business if such station has no more than $14.0 million in annual receipts.9 Business concerns included in
this industry are those "primarily engaged in broadcasting images together with sound."10 The
Commission has estimated the number of licensed commercial television stations to be 1,390.11
According to Commission staff review of the BIA Kelsey Inc. Media Access Pro Television Database
(BIA) as of January 31, 2011, 1,006 (or about 78 percent) of an estimated 1,298 commercial television
stations12 in the United States have revenues of $14 million or less and, thus, qualify as small entities
under the SBA definition. The Commission has estimated the number of licensed noncommercial
educational ("NCE") television stations to be 391.13 We note, however, that, in assessing whether a


5 5 U.S.C. 603(b)(3).
6 5 U.S.C. 601(6).
7 5 U.S.C. 601(3) (incorporating by reference the definition of "small business concern" in 15 U.S.C. 632).
Pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 601(3), the statutory definition of a small business applies "unless an agency, after
consultation with the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and after opportunity for public
comment, establishes one or more definitions of such term which are appropriate to the activities of the agency
and publishes such definition(s) in the Federal Register." 5 U.S.C. 601(3).
8 15 U.S.C. 632. Application of the statutory criteria of dominance in its field of operation and independence
are sometimes difficult to apply in the context of broadcast television. Accordingly, the Commission's
statistical account of television stations may be over-inclusive.
9 See 13 C.F.R. 121.201, NAICS Code 515120 (2007).
10 Id. This category description continues, "These establishments operate television broadcasting studios and
facilities for the programming and transmission of programs to the public. These establishments also produce
or transmit visual programming to affiliated broadcast television stations, which in turn broadcast the programs
to the public on a predetermined schedule. Programming may originate in their own studios, from an affiliated
network, or from external sources." Separate census categories pertain to businesses primarily engaged in
producing programming. See Motion Picture and Video Production, NAICS code 512110; Motion Picture and
Video Distribution, NAICS Code 512120; Teleproduction and Other Post-Production Services, NAICS Code
512191; and Other Motion Picture and Video Industries, NAICS Code 512199.
11 See News Release, "Broadcast Station Totals as of December 31, 2010," 2011 WL 484756 (F.C.C.) (dated
Feb. 11, 2011) ("Broadcast Station Totals"); also available at
http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DOC-304594A1.pdf.
12 We recognize that this total differs slightly from that contained in Broadcast Station Totals, supra, note 143;
however, we are using BIA's estimate for purposes of this revenue comparison.
13 See Broadcast Station Totals, supra, note 143.
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business concern qualifies as small under the above definition, business (control) affiliations14 must be
included. Our estimate, therefore, likely overstates the number of small entities that might be affected by
our action, because the revenue figure on which it is based does not include or aggregate revenues from
affiliated companies. The Commission does not compile and otherwise does not have access to
information on the revenue of NCE stations that would permit it to determine how many such stations
would qualify as small entities.
7.
In addition, an element of the definition of "small business" is that the entity not be
dominant in its field of operation. We are unable at this time to define or quantify the criteria that would
establish whether a specific television station is dominant in its field of operation. Accordingly, the
estimate of small businesses to which rules may apply do not exclude any television station from the
definition of a small business on this basis and are therefore over-inclusive to that extent. Also, as noted,
an additional element of the definition of "small business" is that the entity must be independently owned
and operated. We note that it is difficult at times to assess these criteria in the context of media entities
and our estimates of small businesses to which they apply may be over-inclusive to this extent.

D.

Description of Projected Reporting, Recordkeeping, and Other Compliance Requirements

8.
Certain rule changes proposed in the FNPRM would affect reporting, recordkeeping, or
other compliance requirements. Television broadcasters are currently required to maintain a copy of their
public inspection files at their main studios.15 The FNPRM proposes to replace that requirement with a
requirement to submit documents for inclusion in an online public file, including the political file, to be
hosted on the Commission's website. Items in the public file that must also be filed with the
Commission, including FCC authorizations, applications and related materials, contour maps, ownership
reports and related materials, portions of the equal employment opportunity file, the public and broadcasting
manual, children's television programming reports (Form 398), and DTV transition education reports (Form
388), will be automatically imported into the station's online public file. Television stations will only be
responsible for uploading and maintaining items that are not required to be filed with the Commission
under any other rule. The FNPRM also proposes to exclude some items from the online public file
requirement, such as letters and emails from the public, and proposes to add other items to the online
public file requirement, such as whether sponsorship identification, now disclosed only on-air, should also
be disclosed online, and whether to require disclosure of online shared services agreements.

E.

Steps Taken to Minimize Significant Economic Impact on Small Entities, and Significant
Alternatives Considered

9.
The RFA requires an agency to describe any significant alternatives that it has considered
in reaching its proposed approach, which may include the following four alternatives (among others): (1)
the establishment of differing compliance or reporting requirements or timetables that take into account
the resources available to small entities; (2) the clarification, consolidation, or simplification of
compliance or reporting requirements under the rule for small entities; (3) the use of performance, rather
than design, standards; and (4) an exemption from coverage of the rule, or any part thereof, for small
entities.16
10.
The FNPRM seeks to minimize reporting requirements on all television broadcasters, by
having the Commission host the online public file. The previous Report and Order in this proceeding,
which has been vacated, required stations to host their own public file. Having the Commission host the
public file will ease the administrative burdens on all broadcasters. More than a third of the required


14 "[Business concerns] are affiliates of each other when one concern controls or has the power to control the
other or a third party or parties controls or has to power to control both." 13 C.F.R. 121.103(a)(1).
15 See 47 C.F.R. 73.3526, 3527.
16 5 U.S.C. 603(c)(1)-(c)(4).
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contents of the public file have to be filed with the Commission, and the FNPRM proposes to import and
update information that must already be filed with the Commission automatically, creating efficiencies for
broadcasters. Accordingly, since no significant economic impact is imposed by the proposed rules on
small entities, no discussion of alternatives is warranted.
11.
Overall, in proposing rules governing an online public file requirement, we believe that
we have appropriately balanced the interests of the public against the interests of the entities who will be
subject to the rules, including those that are smaller entities.

F.

Federal Rules that May Duplicate, Overlap, or Conflict With the Proposed Rule

12.
None.
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APPENDIX D

Re-Codified Rules

Part 73 of Title 47 of the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations is re-codified to read as follows:
PART 73 RADIO BROADCAST SERVICES
1.
Section 73.1201 is re-codified by eliminating 73.1201(b)(3)
2.
Section 73.3526 is amended by eliminating 73.3526(b)(1) and (2); 73.3526(e)(9)(iii); and
revising 73.3526(b) and (e)(11)(i) to read as follows:
73.3526 Local public inspection file of commercial stations.
*
*
*
*
*
(b) Location of the file. The public inspection file shall be maintained at the main studio of the station.
An applicant for a new station or change of community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the
proposed community of license or at its proposed main studio.
*
*
*
(e)(11)(i) TV issues/programs lists. For commercial TV and Class A broadcast stations, 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. The list for each calendar quarter is to be filed by the tenth day
of the succeeding calendar quarter (e.g., January 10 for the quarter October--December, April 10 for the
quarter January--March, etc.) The list shall include a brief narrative describing what issues were given
significant treatment and the programming that provided this treatment. The description of the programs
shall include, but shall not be limited to, the time, date, duration, and title of each program in which the
issue was treated. The lists described in this paragraph shall be retained in the public inspection file until
final action has been taken on the station's next license renewal application.
*
*
*
*
*
3.
Section 73.3527 is amended by eliminating 73.3527(b)(1) and (2); 73.3527(e)(8)(i) and (ii);
and revising 73.3527(b) and (e)(8) to read as follows:
73.3527 Local public inspection file of noncommercial educational stations.
*
*
*
*
*
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(b) Location of the file. The public inspection file shall be maintained at the main studio of the station.
An applicant for a new station or change of community shall maintain its file at an accessible place in the
proposed community of license or at its proposed main studio.
*
*
*
(e)(8) Issues/Programs Lists. For nonexempt noncommercial educational broadcast stations, 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. The list for each calendar quarter is to be filed by the tenth day
of the succeeding calendar quarter (e.g., January 10 for the quarter OctoberDecember, April 10 for the
quarter JanuaryMarch, etc.). The list shall include a brief narrative describing what issues were given
significant treatment and the programming that provided this treatment. The description of the programs
shall include, but shall not be limited to, the time, date, duration, and title of each program in which the
issue was treated. The lists described in this paragraph shall be retained in the public inspection file until
final action has been taken on the station's next license renewal application.
*
*
*
*
*
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STATEMENT OF

CHAIRMAN JULIUS GENACHOWSKI

Re:
Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee
Public Interest Obligations
and Extension of the Filing Requirement for Children's Television
Programming Report (FCC Form 398)
, MB Docket Nos. 00-168 and 00-44
On my first day as Chairman, I said the FCC should and would "use technology and new
media to . . . improve [the] overall operations of the FCC running efficiently [and] communicating
effectively" with the American people and all stakeholders. Moving from paper to digital, and from
offline to online, is central to this commitment.
We have been doing this consistently. Some examples:

We've revised our rules for the filing of all tariffs electronically, decreasing burdens
on carriers and the Commission.

We now permit staff to notify parties electronically about docket filings instead of
mailing copies.

We've expanded the use of electronic notifications of fees owed.

And we've harnessed modern technology to open our workshops, hearings and
communications to people online, on multiple distribution platforms.
Moving processes and information online is important for several reasons. It drives additional
broadband use; it empowers app developers and consumers to use public data in innovative ways; and
it drives process efficiencies that reduce costs both for the private sector and for government.
Look at e-government. Our government spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on
paper communication with citizens, with most of those interactions with communities that are also
low broadband adopters. By moving more services from paper to the Internet in smart and creative
ways showing citizens the value of Internet access we can both incentivize broadband adoption
and make government more efficient, ultimately generating significant savings that we can reinvest in
knocking down barriers to adoption.
Today, we're applying the common sense principles of moving information online to rules
relating to television broadcasters.
Broadcasters have long been required to disclose certain information as part of its public
interest obligations. This information is commonly known as the "public inspection file." Right now,
this information is disclosed in paper form. And the "public inspection file" is in a filing cabinet at the
stations themselves.
In a broadband world, that just doesn't make any sense.
With this item, we propose to move the public file from paper to the Internet, and to host this
information at the Commission so there's efficient public access, another important step in the
Commission's efforts to ensure effective public access to information.
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Making this information easily accessible will let the public see the large number of
broadcasters that are doing a strong job of meeting their public interest obligations, and also those that
are not.
This disclosure proposal we adopt today was featured in a major FCC report on how the
information needs of communities can best be met in the Internet age. And it has already drawn
support from leaders of the broadcasting and public interest communities, who are often at odds, but
agree that there should be a streamlined and non-burdensome online mechanism for broadcasters to
disclose key information about their service to their communities. I am pleased that we are able to
take action on this recommendation of the Information Needs of Communities Report, and we intend
to act on another recommendation the Enhanced Disclosure NOI in the very near future. By
moving these matters along, we expect to complete the process on both of these proposals by next
spring.
I look forward to hearing from all stakeholders on our NPRM and of course additional ideas
about how to continue integrating digital technology into the way we work here at the FCC.
I thank the staff of the Media Bureau and the Managing Director's Office for their excellent
work on this issue.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MICHAEL J. COPPS

Re:
Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee
Public Interest Obligations
and Extension of the Filing Requirement for Children's Television
Programming Report (FCC Form 398)
, MB Docket Nos. 00-168 and 00-44
One of the of the FCC-centric recommendations emanating from the Waldman Report on The
Information Needs of Communities is to "Emphasize Online Disclosure as a Pillar of FCC Media
Policy." So it is fitting that we have a disclosure item before us today.
The history of this proceeding goes back many, many years, but I will refrain from revisiting
the full saga this morning, riveting though it is. To make the long story very short, the FCC in 1981
ended its requirement for broadcasters to keep a program log and to ascertain what were the
programming and issues interests of their communities of service. The decision was premised upon a
straight-forward, if rather narrow-minded, cost-benefit analysis. Those were some of the nadir years
for public interest premises at the Commission--and that's putting it mildly. Rather, in an effort to
deregulate at any cost, those Commissions made it ever more difficult for citizens not only to seek
redress for poor station performance, but even to unearth the facts about what broadcasters were in
fact doing. Concerned citizens had to go to a lot more trouble just to see a station's file, and even
when they got to it, avenues of redress were closed off because so many of the public interest
responsibilities of the stations had been eliminated by the FCC. I believe it is the responsibility of
this Commission to move forward on both these fronts: (1) to provide for fuller and more adequate
disclosure, and (2) to breathe life and meaning back into public interest responsibilities and
guidelines. I have been pushing for action on both these fronts since I arrived here ten years ago.
And, purely as an aside, there is still plenty of oxygen in my lungs that I will dedicate to breathing life
into these critical issues going forward.
Many others have spoken up in favor of fuller disclosure and strengthened Commission
oversight. These include the public interest community, President Clinton and Vice President Gore's
Advisory Committee, Members of Congress, concerned broadcasters, and millions of citizens across
the land. We are not trying to bring back yesterday, but to forge reasonable Twenty-first century
expectations for Twenty-first century broadcasting. As Lyndon Johnson put it more eloquently,
"Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose." So I hope that we can start
down the road now of winning that tomorrow, late in the day though it is.
The Further Notice we are embarking upon holds promise. It proposes that television
broadcasters move their public files online, to a site hosted by the FCC, which I hope will be
searchable and aggregative and therefore offer real opportunity for comparative analysis and wide
public understanding. Without that kind of searchability, online disclosure would be small
improvement over having the file kept in the broadcast station's basement.
What we are moving online is in large measure the same information available in the current
station files. We urgently need to consider expanding the range of required reporting. Too often the
files are spare to the point of uselessness. And, indeed, a Notice of Inquiry currently on circulation
tees up such issues. I hope that we complete this proceeding expeditiously so we can move on to
common-sense rules responsive to the information needs of these communities.

There were some valid points made by broadcasters in regards to Form 355 and I have often
remarked on the desirability of making some alterations to the Form and then getting on with the job.
I had hoped that would be a far less time-consuming process than the one we have actually endured
over the last few years--yes, I said years.
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Instead we are for the most part starting over. The substantive action we take today is to
vacate the previous Report and Order instead of looking for ways to revise our earlier work and
expedite its completion. The Report and Order being vacated has been held in limbo for three years. I
do hope we move beyond the NOI stage with dispatch, given this is a problem of the highest public
interest priority. We just don't have more years to consider this, and I believe other Commission
vehicles would have allowed us to travel a far quicker route.
Disclosure is sunlight and an important means to important ends. But I repeat what I said at
the time of the release of the Waldman Report: Disclosure is a means to an end--not an end in
itself
. Making information accessible to the public, prerequisite that it is, serves the public interest
only if there are consequences when the files disclose station shortfalls. So we have to ask ourselves
what the public is able to do with the disclosed information. Bring a complaint? Based on what?
Have a hearing designated? Have a more serious license renewal? It was interesting to me that in the
conversation that resulted from Form 355 some broadcasters were willing to provide the
information--but only if it would be anonymous--and with assurances that their licenses would not
be affected. While many broadcasters work hard to serve the public, it would appear there are some
who need to read the public interest bargain one more time. If disclosure brings to light behaviors that
require redress, I'm for having redress on the books.
I happily acknowledge the additional requirement to include pay-for-play and shared services
as information that the broadcasters need to put online. While I would be even more pleased if we
made a decision that shared services are an end run around our media ownership rules, I do believe
this information will nevertheless be revealing.
Lastly, I note that we propose moving the stations' existing political files online. This, too,
will be revealing--but not as revealing as it could be. I believe citizens are entitled to more
information about the political ads that bombard them at election time and, nowadays it seems, almost
all the time. The Supreme Court articulated in its Citizens United decision that transparency is a vital
counter-balance to the perceived influence of corporations in the campaign process. Opaque and
misleading information is not what democracy thrives on. We are not well-served when those who
are attempting to manipulate our political dialogue and determine election outcomes can disguise
themselves and hide behind misleading names. If a group calling itself "Citizens for Purple Mountain
Majesties" is in reality the mouthpiece of a special interest that is refusing to clean up a toxic dump or
is pouring pollution into the Great Lakes, don't citizens have a right--yes, I said "a right"--to know
that? Open government can only exist where people and groups trying to determine elections stand
up and tell us who they are. That's not happening often enough. The fissures in our democracy will
continue to widen if anonymous money retains its unchecked influence in our elections. So I would
hope the Commission would find its way to using the authority it has to require fuller sponsorship
identification of the interests bank-rolling so many of the ads we all watch all the time.
When the roll is called I will vote to approve and move ahead with this item, hopeful that my
colleagues will work with dispatch to advance wider disclosure proceedings in the months ahead. I
thank the Bureau for bringing up this item and I especially want to recognize the hard work that our
public interest community did to emphasize both the importance and the urgency of public disclosure
for the public interest.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER ROBERT M. McDOWELL

APPROVING IN PART, CONCURRING IN PART

Re:
Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee
Public Interest Obligations
and Extension of the Filing Requirement for Children's Television
Programming Report (FCC Form 398)
, MB Docket Nos. 00-168 and 00-44
Today, I enthusiastically vote in support of vacating the 2007 Order that required television
broadcasters to post their public inspection files on the Internet and adopted the so-called "Enhanced
Disclosure Form" to replace the quarterly issues/programs list. In 2007, I cast the sole dissent against
the imposition of this form. At the time, I cautioned that our action was treading towards reinstating
an ascertainment regime discarded by the Commission in 1984. Such action risked infringing upon
the First Amendment rights of broadcasters.
Moreover, this form was burdensome, excessively regulatory and to quote the FCC's
Information Needs of Communities report "overly complex." It is not surprising that the form was
challenged before the Commission, the courts, and even the Office of Management and Budget where
the information collection was questioned under the Paperwork Reduction Act. Although our action
today concludes this regulatory chapter, it appears to be only temporary as this order contains a
further notice of proposed rule making that could result in additional burdens on television
broadcasters. Furthermore, recently placed on circulation here at the Commission is a notice of
inquiry that initiates a separate proceeding to create a replacement standardized form and reporting
requirements but more about that another day.
In the further notice, the Commission asks additional questions about placing the public file
online. As was the case in 2007, I remain supportive of making "the public inspection file more
accessible and more useful, thus improving communications between broadcasters and their local
communities." Here, the Commission tentatively concludes that public inspection files should be
centrally located on the FCC website. Hopefully, this proposal would reduce costs and burdens on
broadcasters a concern that was voiced by many by placing the onus of creating and hosting the
website on the Commission. But I will be attentive to a record that indicates otherwise.
We also ask for comment about the proposal that the political file should be posted online and
that updates should be made "immediately absent unusual circumstances." Previously, the
Commission decided to exempt the political file from the online requirement concluding that "the
burden of placing this material on the Internet outweighs the benefits." Now, the Commission asserts
that most political advertising transactions are electronic, so online availability may be less
burdensome than previously thought. I look forward to hearing from stakeholders regarding the
possible ramifications of an online political file.
Although the majority of the questions in the further notice are meant to elicit comment on
moving the public file online, others serve as a means to expand the required disclosures made by
broadcasters. I have significant concerns about the substance of some of these questions and the
possible direction in which the Commission could be headed. We propose that broadcasters upload a
list of all on-air sponsorship identification announcements and seek comment regarding whether
"sharing agreements" including those not currently required to be reported under our rules should
be included in the online public file. Such sweeping requirements may overly burden the broadcaster
without sufficient corresponding benefits to the local citizens served by the station. Further, I wonder
whether history is doomed to repeat itself. Are we once again heading down a path towards
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needlessly burdensome rules, regulatory overreach, Paperwork Reduction Act challenges and
unconstitutional intrusions? Stay tuned.
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. In this vein, I would
like to thank the Chairman for seeking specific comment on the costs and benefits of the proposals
contained in the further notice. I hope that participants will provide us with the information and data
needed to balance the public interest in ready access to information with the costs and legalities of
such disclosure. As always, I will keep an open mind and look forward to learning from all interested
parties. For these reasons, I support this order and further notice, but concur on the questions
expanding the scope of the materials required to be contained in the public inspection file. Many
thanks to the Media Bureau for its work on this order and further notice.
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STATEMENT OF

COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN

Re:
Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Television Broadcast Licensee
Public Interest Obligations
and Extension of the Filing Requirement for Children's Television
Programming Report (FCC Form 398)
, MB Docket Nos. 00-168 and 00-44
Disclosure and transparency: Words that inspire confidence, increase the public's trust, and
convey good faith. We're seeing, hearing and focusing more and more each day, on ways to enhance
these efforts in both our public and private sector engagement. So it greatly pleases me today, to join
my colleagues in taking a meaningful leap to this end, when it comes to the media landscape.
Local television stations play a vital role in American communities. They provide us with
daily updates on weather and traffic patterns, conduct in-depth reports about area officials and
businesses, and expose us to rare views and personalities in our neighborhoods when we are often too
busy to notice. While I wasn't personally involved in local TV reporting, the small newspaper that I
owned and operated offered unique insights and reporting that had value worthy of protection.
Under current obligations that apply to commercial broadcast television stations, the program
logs and files of any particular station can be accessed and inspected by the public.
Those files serve to assist not only media academics and scholars who assess the trends in
local reporting and programming, but they also act as a verifiable means to hold stations accountable
for their public interest obligations. If a broadcaster asserts that a certain show is educational,
informational, and relevant to the community, these files serve as a means for others to evaluate that
contention. Further, when a broadcast license comes up for renewal, community residents can
examine the public file to determine if objections should be raised based on what they may conclude
are the lack of cogent and frequent local reporting and community-based content. A community's
desire to examine public files is only possible, if they have realistic, meaningful access.
I've seen such files. They reside deep within a broadcast station's inner-labyrinth, far from
the reception area, in a vintage filing cabinet with letters marked only in small font. I make light of
this, to stress a point. Now is the time to move these "PUBLIC" files out of cabinets and onto the
web.
The public should have unfettered access to documents and records that affect them
intimately, and I believe that local news does just that. Today, 74% of Americans turn to broadcast
TV more frequently than any other source for local news, while 78% of Americans are online on a
regular or semi-regular basis. That statistical overlap is striking.
Physically going to a station and sifting through documents is time-consuming, travel-
intensive, and difficult. Creating a meaningful way for the public to view these files with an online
engagement is, to quote a popular commercial, "priceless".
Despite these benefits, I am cognizant of the burdens that come with transitioning to web-
based filing would result. To quote Steve Waldman's report on the Information Needs of
Communities, "A transition to a digital system needs to be handled carefully and in a manner
sensitive to the capacities of different broadcasters." Our item, therefore, asks probing and
constructive questions in that regard, and I look forward to input and suggestions as we move toward
full implementation.
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In a separate but related proceeding, we will address the amount of programming content that
should be contained in the online disclosure process. I certainly would like to see as much detail as
possible. As I mentioned, I have seen the paper versions of these public files, and they leave much to
be desired. And while I am an advocate for a streamlined process, submitting a flimsy description for
an important story is neither okay, nor should be permitted. Thus, the submissions should have to
meet a certain threshold, and I'm certain that broadcasters will be partners with me and my colleagues
in that regard.
I have spoken to the Chairman, and I appreciate his assurances that we will move
expeditiously on both the consideration and enactment of that item and the next steps for this one.
The Commission, I know is committed to devoting the necessary resources toward the
construction of a host forum for these files and will get this up and running in a timely manner. With
the inclusion of documents found in the FCC Consolidated Database System, the diligence of the able
people behind our agency's website operations, and the related item concerning future form's layout
and content, I am confident that we will develop a mechanism for a robust and thorough process.
And no matter what shape or form this offering takes, it must be accessible to those with sight
and hearing impairments. We have made significant progress under the Communications and Video
Accessibility Act, and this is another way where our agency can continue to lead by example.
I wish to thank all of the hard-working individuals behind this item, particularly Holly Saurer,
and I look forward to the next iteration of this extremely important proceeding.
43

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