When the FCC extended its three-hour weekly requirement for kidvid programming to subchannels in 2004, the NAB said, the commission promised to reconsider the move within three years, but never did. “Given technological developments, changes in how consumers access video programming and the growth in child-oriented content online and on-demand over the past two decades, the FCC should initiate this long overdue proceeding forthwith,” NAB said.
The NAB has asked the FCC to drop the requirement that broadcasters air air three hours a week of children’s educational and information programming on their subchannels just as they must on their main channel.
Because of the requirement, multicast networks or so-called diginets that are carried on subchannel must include a three-hour block of E/I programming each week.
When the FCC extended the requirement to subchannels in 2004, the NAB said, the FCC promised to reconsider the move within three years, but never did.
“Given technological developments, changes in how consumers access video programming and the growth in child-oriented content online and on-demand over the past two decades, the FCC should initiate this long overdue proceeding forthwith.”
The FCC has no statutory obligation to impose the requirement on every channel a station airs, the NAB argued.
“At a minimum, the commission should provide more flexibility to broadcasters to determine on which programming streams they air any required hours of children’s programming. For example, the current rules require multicasting stations to air the requisite three hours on their main program stream, regardless of the programming they may offer on other streams.
“Even if a station devotes a significant portion or the entirety of another stream to children’s educational programming, it must still air E/I programming on its main stream.
“Such a requirement appears overly burdensome and unnecessarily restrictive, if not irrational.”
The NAB suggested that the FCC re-examine the whole idea of the three-hour children block on all channels. “The commission should revise its definition of ‘core’ E/I programming to bring it into alignment with the current marketplace and consumer expectations. The FCC’s very restrictive policy on addressing core programming preemptions needlessly burdens broadcasters and impairs their programming flexibility.”
The FCC should also relax the reporting requirements associated with their children’s programming obligations.
“We urge the FCC to create a combined annual compliance report to replace the currently separate quarterly issues/programs lists and quarterly reporting on children’s educational TV programming and commercial matter in children’s programs.
“This streamlined annual report would rely more on broadcaster certifications, rather than their unnecessary submission of pages and pages of granular details about individual programs that lack practical utility for consumers and impose undue burdens on local stations.”
The NAB’s kidvid requests came in response to the FCC call for ideas on getting rid of unnecessary and outdated media rules.
The NAB was full of such ideas.
In addition to the children’s issues, NAB said, it recommends “eliminating other unnecessary administrative burdens, including filing with the commission: (1) paper copies of numerous broadcaster contracts already identified via other FCC requirements; (2) an annual report on ancillary and supplementary digital TV services by thousands of stations that do not provide these services; and (3) the EEO Mid-Term Report, which requires the submission of information already available in stations’ online public files.
“As the commission has previously done by modernizing certain broadcast regulations to take advantage of the Internet, it should reform other outdated rules to permit broadcasters to utilize online methods of providing notice, including giving the requisite public notices associated with various types of broadcast applications.
“And it is past time to update the retransmission consent/must carry election process by allowing TV stations to post their elections on a website readily accessible to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs), rather than sending those elections by certified ‘snail mail.’ ”
The commission’s ownership interest filing requirements should be modified as well, the NAB urged. “TV licensees, and any entities that hold attributable interests in a licensee, must file ownership reports in all odd-numbered years; within 30 days of consummating assignments or transfers of permits and licenses; and in connection with the FCC’s grant of a station’s original construction permit and with the permittee’s application for a station license.”
The detailed information required of so many entities and individuals makes the gathering of information for, and the filing of, ownership reports burdensome and time-consuming, especially for any licensees, including smaller ones, with multi-level ownership structures and many attributable interest holders, NAB said.
“To lessen these burdens while still ensuring that the commission has current ownership information about broadcast licensees,” NAB offered two main proposals.
First, it urged the commission to “ensure that the on-going migration of ownership reports to the Licensing and Management System (LMS) is successful and addresses the serious issues previously identified by broadcasters and their counsel with the electronic version of Forms 323 and 323-E in the Consolidated Database System (CDBS).
“To ensure an efficient rollout of the LMS version of the Ownership Reports, the FCC needs to provide a period of time sufficient for broadcast industry representatives to test the new version, give feedback about any problems and offer suggestions for improvements.”
And second, NAB said, the FCC reconsider how often broadcasters file ownership reports.
“Given the number of licensees and attributable entities and individuals that must submit reports, the costs in terms of broadcasters’ time and attorneys’ fees exceed the benefits to be gained from overly frequent reporting.
“NAB members have explained the difficulties they face in even obtaining the required information from all attributable entities and individuals. These relative costs are particularly high compared to the FCC’s regulatory interest when licensees must prepare and file ownership reports even though there have been no changes in ownership affecting control of the licensee.”