Skip to main content

FCC Demos Online File-Posting Tool

The FCC Tuesday walked the public and interested stakeholders
-- those would include primarily broadcasters -- through the interface for the
online database it has set up to make TV station public files, including online
political files accessible nationwide.

The FCC is still working some bugs out -- Greg Elin,
identified as the chief architect of the system, said some applications still
don't work with Internet Explorer, though they do with Mozilla Firefox. Elin,
who conducted the demonstration, said that the goal was to make it easy for
stations to upload the info to the commission, as well as for the public to
view it.

One feature, he said, would be an "activity feed"
that would show how recently stations had updated the file, which, in the case
of online political files, could be daily.

The FCC's own stream of the online workshop had some bugs of
its own, with delays and freezes according to a couple of online watchers, but
Elin said it was being recorded. He also said there would be how-to videos and
a helpline to ease the transition.

Taking a suggestion from the National Association of
Broadcasters, said Elin, the application will feature drop boxes that can be
synchronized with the FCC so that stations can just drag and drop files into a
folder, or what Elin called sort of magic wormhole to the FCC.

FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake said that the FCC had been
working with station representatives on the interface and called the online
file postings a common-sense move from antiquated hard files in some 2,000
different locations at local stations.

There have been issues in the past with stations having to
break up FCC filings that are too big, and Elin said there would still be a
limit. But he said it would be large enough -- tens of megs -- that the FCC did
not anticipate that would be an issue.

The FCC anticipates an initial surge of public interest in
the online files. Elin said there were plans to cache some info and supply
cloud redundancy. But he also said TV stations would be on separate hardware so
that their ability to post would not be affected by that surge.

It is that surge of interest, particularly among
competitors, that is of as much concern to broadcasters as the logistics of
posting the info.

The National Association of Broadcasters has sued the
commission over the online posting issue. The FCC declined to delay
implementation until the court weighs in. Both the FCC and the Obama
Administration want the reporting to kick in in the current political cycle.