The FCC is proposing to eliminate two public inspection file rules. One is that commercial TV and radio broadcast stations retain and make available to the public copies of correspondence from viewers and listeners. The other is that cable operators generally publicize the location of a cable system’s principal headend. A final vote on the proposal by the FCC will occur after a period of seeking public comment on the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM).
The Commission points out that while it appears that the general public does not need access to principal headend information, the info is necessary for other entities including the FCC itself and local TV stations. So, the FCC is asking for comment on how this information should be collected and made available to the entities that do need it.
Commissioner Ajit Pai released a statement pointing out that he appreciated his colleagues’ willingness to refrain from ordering cable operators to post the location of their systems’ principal headends on the Internet.
“But cable operators are still required to place headend location information in a paper inspection file. This mandate is entirely unnecessary,” he says. “There is no legitimate need for the public to know the location of a cable system’s principal headend. Indeed, making the location of such critical infrastructure available to the general public could increase the security risks facing those facilities. And, once again, repealing this rule would allow cable operators to transition fully to an online public file and stop storing all that paper.”
A statement from Commissioner Mignon Clyburn explains that she thinks it makes sense to look at eliminating principal headend information from a cable operator’s public inspection file. “When was the last time you overheard two friends talking about the location of their cable operator’s headend? Unless these individuals work in the communications industries or are incredibly bored, it is unlikely that such a conversation takes place with any regularity,” she says.
Since there are not many requests for onsite inspection of broadcasters’ correspondence files or cable companies’ headend information, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also used a statement to call out the old rules. He says modern options, like email and other social media, make those regs look outdated and unnecessary.
Filed Under: Industry regulations