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Statements: Kennard | Furchtgott-Roth

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Federal Communications Commission
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).

For immediate release:
September 14, 2000

News Media contact:
Audrey Spivack 202-418-0512
David Fiske 202-418-0513


Washington, DC-Today the FCC proposed to standardize and enhance public interest disclosure requirements for television broadcasters. In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) approved today, the FCC tentatively concluded that television broadcasters should provide information on how they serve the public interest in a standardized format on a quarterly basis. The disclosure form would be maintained in the station's public inspection file in place of the currently required issues/programs lists. The Commission noted that given the benefits to be derived from enhanced public disclosure, it should not wait until after the digital transition to implement this proposal.

The FCC also proposed to enhance the public's ability to access this public interest information by requiring licensees to make the contents of their public inspection files, including the standardized disclosure form, available on the station's or a state broadcasters association's Internet website.

The NPRM is based upon the comments received in response to the Notice of Inquiry released December 20, 1999.

Standardization of Disclosures. The FCC indicated that use of a standardized disclosure form will facilitate access to information on how licensees are serving the public interest and allow the public to play a more active role in helping a station meet its obligation to provide programming that addresses the community's needs and interests.

Types of Disclosures. The FCC tentatively concluded that the standardized form should ask questions about categories of programming and seeks comment on what categories should be included on the standardized form. The FCC also proposed to include a "catch-all" category to ensure that the form enables broadcasters to reflect any public interest programming they aired that does not fit neatly into one of the specified categories. The Commission also sought comment on how licensees should inform the public about their provision of closed captioned and video described programming.

The FCC invited further comment on whether a licensee should provide a narrative description on the standardized form of the actions taken, in the normal course of business, to identify its community's programming needs and interests. The Commission also sought comment on whether a licensee's community activities, such as organizing community events or awareness campaigns, should be considered in assessing whether that licensee has served the public interest under the Communications Act and whether they should be listed on an attachment to the form.

Public Inspection File. The FCC tentatively concluded that licensees must place a paper copy of the standardized disclosure form in their public inspection files each quarter and retain those forms until final action has been taken on the next renewal application.

Websites. Licensees are currently allowed to maintain their public inspection file in computer databases, and encouraged to post their electronic file on any websites they maintain. The FCC tentatively concluded that licensees should make their public inspection files available on the station's or the state broadcasters association website. The Commission also sought comment on whether television broadcasters should be required or encouraged to make those websites accessible to persons with disabilities.

Action by the Commission September 14, 2000, by Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 00-345). Chairman Kennard, Commissioners Ness and Powell, with Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth concurring in part and dissenting in part and Commissioner Tristani concurring, and with Chairman Kennard and Commissioners Furchtgott-Roth, Powell, and Tristani issuing separate statements.

MM Docket 00-168


Mass Media Bureau contact: Cyndi Thomas 202-418-2130