“The Public Interest Standard in Television Broadcasting”

In 1998, the Clinton administration’s so-called Gore Commission reviewed the “public interest” basis of federal broadcasting law as part of its report on policies for the fast-approaching era of digital television. The Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters published its full 160-page report Dec. 18, 1998 (PDF). Federal oversight of all broadcasting has had two general goals: to foster the commercial development of the industry and to ensure that broadcasting serves the educational and informational needs of the American people. In many respects, the two goals have been quite complementary, as seen in the development of network news operations and in the variety of cultural, educational, and public affairs programming aired over the years.

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Comparative Standards for Noncommercial Educational Applicants, 1998

In 1998, the FCC addressed a longtime gap in its set of procedures with this rulemaking proposal. See the resulting April 2000 FCC order laying out the new procedure. Before the Federal Communications Commission, Washington, D.C. 20554
In the Matter of Reexamination of the Comparative Standards for Noncommercial Educational Applicants, MM Docket No. 95-31

FURTHER NOTICE OF PROPOSED RULE MAKING

Adopted: October 7, 1998 Released: October 21, 1998
Comment Date: [45 days after publication in the Federal Register]
Reply Date: [65 days after publication in the Federal Register]

By the Commission: Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth and Tristani issuing a joint statement

1. The Commission issues this Further Notice in an ongoing effort to improve the process of choosing among competing applicants for noncommercial educational (“NCE”) broadcast stations.

Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) Bylaws, 1998

These are the bylaws of APTS, as of June 1998, a District of Columbia nonprofit corporation that represents public TV in Washington. At that point, the group was calling itself  the Association of America’s Public Television Stations, or America’s Public Television Stations for short. ARTICLE I. OFFICES AND REGISTERED AGENT. Section 1. Registered Office.

FCC notice to WTTW of fines for underwriting violations, 1997

In 1997, the FCC fined Chicago public TV station WTTW for violating commission standards for underwriting credits (Current coverage). More than two years later, the commission found that three of the four contested credits were permissible, and reduced the fine (text of March 2000 order). Federal Communications Commission Washington, D.C. 20554
In reply refer to: 1800C1-KMS 97040529
December 2, 1997
Released: December 3, 1997
CERTIFIED MAIL — RETURN RECEIPT REQUESTED

Window to the World Communications, Inc.
Licensee, Station WTTW(TV)
5400 North St. Louis Ave. Chicago, IL 60625

Dear Licensee:

This letter constitutes a NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR A FORFEITURE pursuant to Section 503(b) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (the “Act”), for violations of 47 U.S.C. Section 399B and Section 73.621(e) of the Commission’s Rules.

PTV Weekend proposal by Lawrence Grossman, 1997

In May 1997, former PBS President Lawrence K. Grossman put forth results of a study backed by the Markle Foundation. He proposed a compromise on corporate support: Public TV would be permitted to raise needed production money by selling on-air advertising two nights a week. James A. Fellows examined the issues in an analysis published by the fledgling Hartford Gunn Institute. Current also carried several news stories on the project’s origins. Current’s June 23, 1997, issue described the PTV Weekend (a.k.a. P2) proposal and featured a debate on the experiment between two station leaders.

Noncomm DBS set-aside upheld in Time Warner v. FCC decision, 1996

This 1996 federal Circuit Court opinion upholds a provision of the 1992 Cable Act that mandates noncommercial educational or informational programming on 4-7 percent of DBS operators’ channel capacity [DBS provision]. The law was not challenged by DBS operators but by Time Warner, which opposed many provisions of the Cable Act. The decision was a major victory for public TV, which had tried for years to obtain reserved channels in the new media that would be comparable to the FM and TV channel reservations of earlier decades. [Current coverage: appeal verdict, FCC rules.]

United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued November 20, 1995; Decided August 30, 1996

No. 93-5349
TIME WARNER ENTERTAINMENT CO., L.P., APPELLANT/PETITIONER
v.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEES/RESPONDENTS

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS, ET AL., INTERVENORS

Consolidated with Nos.

Noncommercial DBS set-aside provision upheld in Time Warner v. FCC, 1996

This U.S. Court of Appeals opinion, Aug. 30, 1996, upholds a provision of the 1992 Cable Act that mandates noncommercial educational or informational programming on 4-7 percent of DBS operators’ channel capacity [DBS provision]. The law was not challenged by DBS operators but by Time Warner, which opposed many provisions of the Cable Act. The decision was a major victory for public TV, which had tried for years to obtain reserved channels in the new media that would be comparable to the FM and TV channel reservations of earlier decades. Current coverage: this court verdict and the subsequent FCC adoption of rules in 1998..]

United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued November 20, 1995; Decided August 30, 1996

No.

Reservation of noncomm DBS channels upheld, 1996

This 1996 Circuit Court opinion upholds a provision of the 1992 Cable Act that mandates noncommercial educational or informational programming on 4-7 percent of Direct Broadcast Satellite operators’ channel capacity (DBS provision). The law was not challenged by DBS operators but by Time Warner, which opposed many provisions of the Cable Act. The decision was a major victory for public TV, which had tried for years to obtain reserved channels in the new media that would be comparable to the FM and TV channel reservations of earlier decades. (Current coverage: appeal verdict, FCC rules.)

United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued November 20, 1995; Decided August 30, 1996

No. 93-5349
TIME WARNER ENTERTAINMENT CO., L.P., APPELLANT/PETITIONER
v.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEES/RESPONDENTS

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS, ET AL., INTERVENORS

Consolidated with Nos.