FCC Proposes to Modernize Public Notice Rules for Broadcast Applicants

The FCC has adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM) that aims to streamline and modernize the rules requiring broadcast applicants to provide local public notices when filing certain applications.

Under the Communications Act, radio and television broadcast applicants are required to provide public notice to their local communities when filing certain applications to ensure that members of the public can participate in the broadcast licensing process. However, according to Chairman Pai, the current rules, which require written notices in local newspapers and/or on-air messages, are anachronistic and needlessly complex.

With this FNPRM, the Commission proposes to replace the current newspaper publication requirement with a written public notice posted online on a publicly accessible website with a direct link to the broadcast application. Furthermore, it proposes to standardize the on-air announcements, clarify the local obligations of international broadcast stations, and update the rules regarding public notice for stations designated for evidentiary hearings.

Commissioner O’Rielly supports the proposal to remove the newspaper publication requirement and other reforms, but is wary of the constitutional implications of requiring stations to conform their speech to a standardized, government-mandated formula. Commissioner Starks is equally supportive of the Commission’s modernization efforts, but raises questions about social media posts and mobile app notifications as tools for providing public notice.

Comments will be due 30 days after the FNPRM is published in the Federal Register.

If you have questions about the proposed changes or wish to file comments, please contact any attorney in our office.

Categories: Broadcast and Media