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Federal Communications Commission
1919 - M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554
News media information 202 / 418-0500
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

FCC 97-122
April 4, 1997


On April 3, l997, the Commission adopted its Fifth and Sixth Reports and Orders in the Matter of Advanced Television Systems and Their Impact on the Existing Television Broadcast Service, MM Docket No. 87-268, a proceeding relating to the digital television service (DTV). In addition, Commission personnel are scheduled to participate in the up-coming 1997 National Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention, which will involve discussions of these matters. However, under the Commission's "Sunshine Prohibition" in the Commission's currently effective ex parte rules, 47 C.F.R. Sections 1.1202(f) and 1.1203, presentations may not be made concerning the matters at issue in this proceeding prior to release of the Reports and Orders.

The Commission believes that participation by Commission personnel in the scheduled panels and presentations associated with the NAB convention, which may involve discussions of the Commission's DTV Reports and Orders, will serve the public interest. Further, discussion of DTV matters in this context would be consistent with policies reflected in a new exemption in the Commission's ex parte rules that would permit such discussions in widely attended speech or panel discussions, despite the Commission's Sunshine Period prohibition. The Commission adopted the new exemption on March 13 l997, and it will become effective shortly. See Report and Order, GC Docket 95-21, released March 19, l997.

In light of the foregoing, the Commission is waiving the Sunshine Period prohibition contained in its currently effective ex parte rules, 47 C.F.R. Section 1.1203, with respect to the Fifth and Sixth Reports and Orders in MM Docket No. 87-268, for the purpose of permitting participation by Commission personnel in the NAB panels and presentations, as well as for purposes of any similar widely attended speeches or panel discussions that meet

the requirements of the Commission's new ex parte exemption. Any presentations made to Commission decisionmakers at these events in connection with the DTV proceeding that go beyond written comments or filings must be disclosed pursuant to the ex parte

rules, but the disclosure requirement may be satisfied by submitting a transcript or tape recording of the discussion. We also note that, consistent with our soon-to-be-effective ex parte rule amendments, this waiver does not apply to private presentations made on the site of a widely attended speech or panel discussion.

Action by the Commission.