The FCC adopted the following items at its meeting on February 22, 2018.

FCC Proposes to Eliminate Requirement to File EEO Mid-Term Reports

The FCC issued  a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) at its Feb. 22 meeting proposing to eliminate the requirement for broadcast stations to file Form 397 mid-term reports.  The Rules currently require stations with 5 or more employees (or commonly-owned stations in the same market) to file Form 397 in conjunction with the statutorily-required mid-term EEO review.  The NPRM states that most of the information contained in such reports is available in the public inspection file.  The only information not otherwise available relates to whether the station are subject to a mid-term review.  The NPRM proposes 2 alternative methods to inform the Commission whether it is subject to a mid-term review – either requiring subject stations to indicate on their annual EEO filing or by modifying the online public file database to so indicate.

We expect this proposal to be relatively non-controversial.

FCC Eliminates Requirement to Maintain Paper Copies of FCC Rules

The FCC eliminated the requirement that certain broadcast stations and cable operators make available to operators hard copies of the relevant FCC rules.  Given the immediate availability of FCC Rules on the internet, the Report and Order finds the requirements to be unnecessarily burdensome. However, even with the elimination of the paper rule requirement, station personnel will continue to be required to be familiar with the rules governing their operation.

FCC Aims to Speed up the Introduction of new Technologies and Services

Under Section 7 of the Communications Act, 47 U.S.C. §157, Congress required the Commission to determine whether a new technology or service is in the public interest, and, if so, to complete a proceeding to authorize it within 1 year.  New technologies or services must involve significant breakthroughs and cannot be foreseeable or incremental outgrowths of existing technologies.

To state the obvious, it has been rare for the Commission to comply with the time periods mandated by Section 7.  In an effort to speed up the authorization of new technologies or services, the Commission adopted an NPRM at its Feb. 22 meeting proposing to establish new expedited approval procedures.  These procedures will apply to applications for authorization of a new service or technology as well as petitions for rulemaking or waiver.   If the proposed rules eventually re adopted, applicants requesting Section 7 consideration will have to so indicate on their filing, and the FCC staff will then have 90 days to decide whether the filing proposes a significant enough breakthrough to merit expedited consideration.  If it decides in the affirmative, it will issue a public notice and will then have 1 year to take “some concrete action” on the petition or application.