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.
A proposal to require noncommercial radio stations to disclose program funders and share other public file records online has prompted widely varying reactions among public and religious broadcasters. In filings with the FCC, Native Public Media, an association representing tribal media organizations, warned that the change would be too burdensome and could lead to the demise of some of its radio stations. American Public Media Group — the largest owner of public radio stations in the U.S. — welcomed greater standards of transparency. Meanwhile, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters staked out a middle ground, proposing an exemption for stations with small staffs. Another major player among noncommercial radio broadcasters, Educational Media Foundation, objected to online disclosure of its stations’ program donors, as did Native Public Media.
Two foundations will back capacity-building for Koahnic Broadcast Corp., the public media nonprofit that operates KNBA in Anchorage, Alaska, and Native Voice One, the New Mexico-based producer and distributor of national shows Native America Calling and National Native News, among others. The grants, totaling $375,000, are intended to strengthen Koahnic’s Native radio programming, marketing and distribution services. The Ford Foundation committed $300,000 to the initiative over three years, and the Nathan Cummings Foundation provided the balance in a one-year grant, according to Jaclyn Sallee, Koahnic president. Koahnic and Native Voice One serve a growing but economically fragile field of tribal stations. They added 11 new affiliates over the past year and anticipate more new tribal stations in Louisiana, Idaho and New York, according to the grant announcement.
Bates, a producer/director who rose through the ranks to become network chief in 1996, announced his retirement plans June 22, initiating the second leadership transition for the state network’s top job since its founding 58 years ago. Bates arrived at NET in 1975 as a producer/director working on a one-year assignment. He ended up devoting his career to NET, earning a promotion to senior producer and eventually moving into fundraising. He became director of development for Nebraskans for Public Television Inc. in 1985 before being appointed to succeed Jack McBride, NET’s founding general manager, in the mid-1990s. “Rod Bates’ leadership has brought NET to the highest level of service in our history,” said Ron Hull, a semi-retired NET veteran who hired Bates as a TV producer more than three decades ago.
Native Public Media and the National Congress of American Indians are warning the FCC that many tribal licensees may be unable to meet deadlines for station construction permits granted since 2007. For one week that October, the FCC accepted applications for new full-power noncommercial educational stations — the first time the agency had done so in seven years. Native American groups spread the word about the rare opportunity to claim a share of FM spectrum. Tribal organizations filed 58 applications and won 38 construction permits (CPs). If built, the stations will more than double the 33 currently broadcasting to tribal lands nationwide (Current, Nov.
The internecine warfare at KNNB, the public radio station on the White Mountain Apache reservation in east central Arizona, seems insignificant now, dwarfed by the terrifying Chediski-Rodeo wildfire that roared through the beautiful forests in June. The fire, which destroyed hundreds of homes in Arizona, blackened nearly a third of the 1.6 million-acre Fort Apache Reservation, burning Ponderosa pine destined for the tribe’s sawmills and killing the elk and deer that bring it at least $600,000 a year in hunting licenses. Before the fire, the 20-year-old station in Whiteriver was a focal point of power struggles among factions and tribal leaders. But when the largest wildfire in Arizona history struck the reservation, Apaches put aside those disputes and KNNB focused on essentials: telling listeners how to survive and how to help. They interrupted regular programming with evacuation orders, emergency plans and information about relief and rescue efforts for the more than 20,000 residents in KNNB’s broadcast area.