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FCC Adopts Rules Transitioning Television Public Files Online

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Released: April 27, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500

445 12th Street, S.W.


Washington, D. C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).



April 27, 2012
Janice Wise (202) 418-8165




“Common sense” update to harness broadband to increase transparency
Washington, D.C. - Broadcasters have kept what are now known as “public files” on paper since 1965 as
part of their longstanding obligation to disclose community-relevant information for public review. The
public has been able to exercise its right to this information only by visiting a broadcast station and asking
to see the public file. Today, without introducing any new substantive requirements, the Federal
Communications Commission (FCC) updated the existing disclosure procedures to move the public file
from paper to the Internet. Chairman Julius Genachowski and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn voted to
affirm the entire order, which includes requiring the broadcasters' public file - including the political file -
be moved online over a two year period. Commissioner McDowell dissented to the portions of the Order
requiring the political file to be posted online.
Specifically, the Second Report and Order requires television stations to post their public files online in a
central, Commission-hosted online database rather than maintaining paper files locally at their main
studios. The Order modernizes the filing process, making it easier for consumers to access information
about their broadcast services without having to travel to the station’s main studio.
In 2002, Congress directed the Commission to ensure public availability of the political files. The Second
Report and Order tailors the uploading of the political portion of the public file to minimize broadcaster
burdens. Broadcasters will not be required to upload existing materials in these “political files” to the
online website. Rather, stations will need only to upload new political file documents going forward. In
addition, for the next two years only stations that are affiliated with the top four national networks (ABC,
NBC, CBS, and Fox) and are licensed to serve communities in the top 50 Designated Market Areas
(DMAs) are required to post political file documents online.
The Second Report and Order departs from the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) in a
number of respects to ensure public benefits while avoiding compliance costs for broadcasters.
Specifically, broadcasters will be responsible for uploading only those items now required to be in the
public file but not otherwise filed with the Commission or available on the Commission’s website. In
addition, broadcasters will not be required to place disclosures of sponsorship identifications and shared
services agreements in the online file at this time, as proposed in the FNPRM.
Action by the Commission April 27, 2012 by Second Report and Order (FCC 12-44). Chairman
Genachowski and Commissioner Clyburn with Commissioner McDowell approving in part, dissenting in
part. Separate statements issued by Chairman Genachowski, Commissioners McDowell and Clyburn.
For further information, contact Holly Saurer (202-418-7283; of the Media
Bureau, Policy Division. Press contact: Janice Wise (202-418-8165;

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