In what would be the most aggressive attack on requirements that broadcasters submit paper copies of certain documents to the Federal Communications Commission, agency chief Ajit Pai is proposing it do away the dictate. He says the demand is “unnecessary” now that the FCC has imposed online public file requirements. Pai has scheduled a vote for this month’s Commission meeting that, if approved, would launch a formal rulemaking to scale back the station filing demands.
“Since the late 1930s, the FCC has required broadcast stations that hold FCC licenses or permits to submit paper copies of certain contracts and other documents relating to ownership and control of those stations to the Commission,” Pai said in a blog post. “I’m proposing to eliminate this requirement.”
At Pai’s direction the FCC is proposing that both commercial and noncommercial radio and television stations no longer be required to file an array of documents including those that relate to ownership or control of a station, such as time brokerage and joint sales agreements—and in the case of TV stations any network affiliation agreements. “While paper filings may have previously been the most efficient mechanism for ensuring that the Commission and the public had ready access to these materials, we believe that is no longer the case,” the FCC tentatively concludes in the 16-page proposal. No such rule currently exists for noncommercial stations, a discrepancy which the FCC also proposes to keep in place.