Skip to main content

FCC Opens Second Front for Retrans Comments

Fans and foes of retransmission consent rules, particularly smaller cable operators, will get a second chance to make their cases to the commission.

Even as the FCC mulls comments in its open review of retrans rules, it has just opened a second front for comment on those and many other regs.

As part of an annual review of the impact of its regs on "small entities" (small businesses, minorities) per the Regulatory Flexibility Act, the commission has just published a list of the rules it says have "a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities." Retransmission consent rules are among the rules the FCC has "chosen for review," as are cable rate regs and many more.

"The purpose of the review is to determine whether such rules should be continued without change, or should be amended or rescinded," said the FCC.

After the list has been published in the Federal Register, which usually takes a week or so, the public and industry have 60 days to comment on:  "the continued need for the rule; the nature of complaints or comments received concerning the rule from the public; the complexity of the rule; the extent to which the rule overlaps, duplicates or conflicts with other Federal rules, and, to the extent feasible, with State and local governmental rules; and the length of time since the rule has been evaluated or the degree to which technology, economic conditions, or other factors have changed in the area affected by the rule."

There are 32 pages worth of rules to be reviewed, everything from cable rate regs and Universal Service Fund payments to the requirement that "each broadcast station to maintain a local or toll-free telephone number in its community of license."

According to an FCC spokesperson, this periodic review is unrelated to the FCC's regulatory review plan, which it has said it will deliver in response to the president's request that independent agencies publish a plan for reviewing regs for their impact on jobs and the economy.

The FCC is also separately reviewing its broadcast media ownership regs per another congressional mandate.