MBA joins other State Associations to challenge online public file ruling

The Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and forty-five other State Broadcasters Associations joined in Comments challenging, before the FCC and the Office of Management and Budget, the Commission’s new requirement that television stations migrate their public inspection files and political files to a website hosted by the FCC.

The State Associations showed that the Commission violated the Paperwork Reduction Act by failing to analyse the impact that its new requirement will have on television stations generally, and on small television stations in particular.  We also demonstrated that the new requirement was unnecessarily, and thus impermissibly, duplicative of records already required to maintained online by the Federal Election Commission.  The State Associations also contended that the Commission failed to adequately address the significant new burden involved in requiring television stations to maintain political file on two platforms – on the FCC’s website and at the station in the form of electronic “back-up files.”  We urged the Commission to allow television stations to maintain back-up political files in either paper or electronic form and to clarify that a television station will be deemed to have complied with the “immediately absence unusual circumstances” political “filing” requirement if within the required period of time the station either posted the particular political file document or placed the paper or electronic copy of the document in its public file.  We argued that this flexibility was necessary to reduce the risk of endless regulatory litigation over whether a station could reasonably have provided an unqualified “yes” to the “Local Public File” certification at renewal time.