FCC Proceedings and State Association Support
The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association, under the guidance of federal legal counsel Richard Zaragoza with the Washington, DC law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP, has provided support (in the form of Joint Comments and/or Joint Reply Comments alongside state broadcast associations nationwide) in the following FCC filings:
There follows a further updated listing of the FCC proceedings, and one piece of Federal legislation, in which the various State Broadcasters Associations jointly participated from January 1, 2012 to the present.
These examples of advocacy before the FCC illustrate how vigorous the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association has been in protecting and advancing the best interests of the free, local, over-the-air, radio and television industries before the FCC.
- In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Broadcast Licensees (MM Docket No. 11-189). Joint Motion for Extension of Deadlines for Filing Comments and Reply Comments filed January 4, 2012. (Motion granted in part)
- In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Broadcast Licensees (MM Docket No. 11-189). Joint Comments filed January 27, 2012 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The State Associations urged the Commission to retain the QPI Lists requirement, which has long been accepted as the best evidence of whether a station has been responsive to local community needs, issues and problems, and to reject the notion that the number of minutes a particular type of program may have aired on a station is a more appropriate measure of a broadcast station’s service in the public interest than the information provided in the QPI Lists. We argued that those Lists are already “standardized” in terms of the type of information required to be included in them. The fact that it may be difficult for a person to “compare” the Lists of one station against the Lists of another station is simply not relevant. The QPI Lists were never intended to be used for station-to-station comparison purposes and such a focus on comparisons would be inappropriate in any event. Rather, the Lists are intended to measure a station’s own individual performance not vis-à-vis other stations but against the evolving needs, issues and problems of the station’s community of license and surrounding service area as the station understands them. To substitute a chiefly quantity of programming measure for public service performance, which is the focus of Free Press’ “Sample Form,” would, in the State Associations’ view, inappropriately, (i) elevate form (quantity of minutes) over substance (treatment of specific issues), (ii) place other undue burdens on stations, and (iii) intertwine the government for years to come in the journalistic news judgments of television broadcast stations throughout the country. The State Associations argued that the Commission “got it right” in 1984/1986, that the FCC acted arbitrarily and capriciously by reversing policy direction in the 2008 Report and Order, and that the Commission should not repeat that earlier mistake going forward. For those and the other reasons spelled out in these Joint Comments, the State Associations urge the Commission to terminate this proceeding without taking any action that may lead either (i) to the adoption of any form of quantitative program measure of a broadcast station’s service in the public interest, or (ii) to the deletion or modification of the current requirement that commercial and noncommercial broadcast stations maintain QPI Lists in their public inspection files. To the extent that the Commission may discern certain best practices in the drafting of QPI Lists, that type of information would be welcomed. (Notice of Inquiry Pending)
- In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Broadcast Licensees (MM Docket No. 11-189). Ex Parte Notice filed April 18, 2012 (re April 16 meeting at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas among FCC Chairman and his staff, and the Executives of the State Broadcasters Associations re online political files, et al.). (Second Report and Order adopted requiring television stations to post on the FCC’s website those contents of their public inspection files that are not already available on the FCC’s website, and requiring the affiliates of the top four television broadcast networks in the top 50 markets, within two years, to post, going forward, their political files on the FCC’s website.)
- In the Matter of Standardized and Enhanced Disclosure Requirements for Broadcast Licensees (MM Docket No. 11-189). Ex Parte Notice filed April 19, 2012 (re April 15 brief, informal conversation at the NAB Convention in Las Vegas between FCC Commissioner McDowell and Richard Zaragoza re online political files.) (See Item No. 3 above.)
- In the Matter of Carriage of Digital Television Broadcast Signals: Amendment to Part 76 of the Commission’s Rules, Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Declaratory Order (CS Docket No. 98-120). Ex Parte Communication filed May 3, 2012 in strong support of the retention and three-year extension of the Viewability Rule (Report and Order adopted, allowing the Viewability Rule to expire).
- In re the Petition of Entercom Communications Corp. for Rulemaking to amend Section 73.1216 (Contest Rule) of the Commission’s Rules to allow broadcast stations to publish the rules of their contests on the station’s website in lieu of broadcasting such rules over-the-air (RM-11684; Docket No. ____). Joint Comments filed December 13, 2012 in support of the rule making petition filed by Entercom Communications Corp. to amend the FCC’s “Contest Rule.” If successful, the FCC would no longer require radio and television stations to broadcast the material terms of their station conducted contests. Rather, stations would have the option of either continuing to announce those contest terms over-the-air or posting those terms on their own websites while periodically airing messages informing their listeners and viewers of the website address where the rules could be found. The State Associations urged the FCC to give stations the flexibility of posting their contest rules on any web site agreeing to accept such postings that is freely accessible, 24/7, without the need for a password or registration. (Petition pending).
- In the Matter of Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Docket No. 12-268). Joint Comments in support of the television broadcast industry to be filed with the FCC by January 25, 2013.