FCC Pulls Online Public Interest Disclosure Order

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Federal Communications Commission has withdrawn a 2007 order for television broadcasters to report how they serve the public interest of their communities.
     Airing programming responsive to the needs and interests of the local community is a requirement to acquire or retain a broadcast license from the FCC.
     Broadcasters challenged the order, before the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the Office of Management and Budget, saying that the requirements were overly complex and burdensome.
     Because of the multiple challenges to the order, the FCC never provided its information collection requirements to the Office of Management and Budget, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act, and thus the provisions of the order never went into effect.
     The order required television stations to use a standardized form to report on how they serve the public interest in addition the pre-existing requirement to maintain public inspection files containing an issues/programs list, describing the “programs that have provided the station’s most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three month period.”
     In addition, the order required stations to make the files, including the standardized form, available on their website or on the website of their state broadcasters’ association.
     Instead of reworking the order to overcome the challenges raised by the industry, the FCC is starting over again, issuing a Notice of Inquiry seeking comment on replacing the issues/programs list with a “streamlined, standardized disclosure form” that would be available to the public online.
     Once the Notice of Inquiry is published in the Federal Register the public will have 30 days to submit comments.

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