17-264: REC files comments in Public Notice proceeding


REC Networks has filed comments with the FCC in MB Docket 17-264.

The Communications Act requires broadcast applicants (existing and new entrants) to make public notice of certain types of broadcast applications at the time they are accepted for filing at the FCC.  Currently, those notices are made through purchasing ads in newspapers.  In an effort to modernize the rules and to reflect the current state of media, the FCC has proposed to eliminate the newspaper requirement and replace with an online announcement.   The FCC also proposes changes to the public notice announcements heard over the air and officially implements public notices for LPFM.  The LPFM implementation was an oversight from 19 years ago.

The section of the Communications Act that requires these public notices dates back to the early 1960s and was prompted by the payola and rigged quiz show scandals of the 1950s.  The public notice law was part of a package of laws intended for broadcasters to demonstrate transparency.  Many of the other laws have since been repealed or modifided.  However, the cold-war era public notice law remains.

In comments, REC supports the general concept of switching to online public notices and having regulatory language that confirms that LPFM stations are subject to the law.  REC did express concern regarding the wording of the over-the-air announcements as they would be confusing to the public.  For full-service stations, listeners can be referred to the station website since stations already have to provide a link to their public file there.  For LPFM stations, they can refer to their website or directly to the REC Voluntary Public Inspection File system.  

REC does not support the different options that the FCC proposed as a "publicly accessible local website".  The FCC proposed to use local government websites where there would be issues that a city may not want to participate, raise First Amendment issues with listing faith-based applicants and an overall feeling that it should not be appropriate to get a city's "permission" to operate a radio station.  We also opposed the use of "community bulletin board" websites as such sites do not exist in most of the country or that they are operated by a local government, chamber of commerce (which may limit to its membership), local newspaper website (which is also proposed, but may not be an option due to costs) or competing broadcast media (which may not be too keen on a new LPFM station in town).  REC also opposed the use of State Broadcaster Association websites due to the hostility of some SBAs towards LPFM and FM translators. 

REC has proposed that in addition to those options, the Commission also allow national websites that are intended for the display of broadcast public notices.  Such sites can be localized to display only notices for a specific area.  Such a website would allow new entrants to meet their statutory requirement at a low cost.

Comments in MB Docket 17-264 are due today, November 18, 2019.  
Reply comments are due on December 2, 2019.

ABOUT REC NETWORKS: REC Networks is an unincorporated entity owned and operated by Michelle Bradley.  Since 1984, REC has been providing information, entertainment and support which today, includes regulatory advocacy related to spectrum access, especially for community broadcasting.  REC also provides programming for J1 Radio, a Canada-based cluster of internet radio stations providing Japanese-language entertainment world-wide and one English-language network, REC-FM.

Media contact: Michelle Bradley 202 621-2355.

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