FCC suggests exempting public radio from new online public file requirements

The FCC is considering giving public radio stations at least two additional years — and maybe even a complete exemption — from a proposed agency regulation that could soon require other radio stations to start publishing public file records online, the agency said in a recent notice. “We recognize that some radio stations may face financial or other obstacles that could make the transition to an online public file more difficult,” said the FCC, in a notice of proposed rulemaking released December 18. “Accordingly, we believe that it is reasonable to commence the transition to an online public file for radio with stations with more resources while delaying, for some period of time, all mandatory online public file requirements for other stations.”

The online proposal is part of an agency effort to make key station records more easily accessible to the public. Under existing FCC rules, all broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial alike, are required to maintain publicly available files that disclose a variety of information about their operations, including details about their ownership. Commercial stations must also include information about political advertising sales in the public files.

FCC reps tell CPB board of growing interest in spectrum auction

WASHINGTON, D.C. — An increasing number of public broadcasters have been contacting the FCC in recent weeks for information about participating in the upcoming spectrum auction, according to commission representatives who spoke at a CPB board meeting here Tuesday. The uptick began after an Oct. 1 report by investment banking firm Greenhill & Co. projected massive paydays for television stations if they sell spectrum to wireless carriers in next year’s congressionally mandated auction. Most pubTV stations, the representatives said, have been asking the FCC for details about transitioning from UHF to VHF channels.

Auction delay allows time to think hard about selling spectrum

Selling or keeping spectrum is perhaps the most consequential decision that the current generation of public television station executives and their boards will ever make about the future of public media, not just in their communities but the nation as well. The FCC chairman’s postponement of the spectrum auction until at least 2016 is an opportunity for greater scrutiny of that weighty decision. Pitches from speculators and their FCC allies have focused on the one-time financial windfall to local licensees from selling noncommercial spectrum. However, balanced deliberation requires examining some key issues. Here’s my own short list:

Know when to hold ’em: Next-generation broadcasting technology will open up important new revenue streams for public and commercial stations.

FCC dismissal of indecency complaints clears way for renewal of pubcasters’ licenses

Pubcasters Louisiana Public Broadcasting, Twin Cities Public Television and KCOS-TV in El Paso, Texas, were among the almost 700 broadcasters whose licenses were renewed en masse earlier this month, after the FCC quietly cleared many stations nationwide of indecency charges. The renewals had been on hold due to allegations that some of their programming may have violated FCC regulations barring broadcasters from airing indecent material between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. The complaints were thrown out as part of an agency effort to reduce the backlog of applications to be processed. The complaint against LPB was apparently over an episode of Doc Martin, according to LPB President Beth Courtney. “You’re kidding me” was Courtney’s reaction when she learned of the complaint’s target, she said. “There was nothing that I saw under any guideline that would be a problem,” Courtney said, adding that the agency’s rejection of the complaint “was the appropriate response.”

The complaint pending against Twin Cities was apparently over “blurred nudity” in an episode of Globe Trekker, according to station spokesperson Elle Krause-Lyons.