FCC's O'Rielly: Regulator, Spare That Tree!

If the Encyclopedia Britannica can end paper publication, the FCC can too, said FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly in a blog post Friday (Feb. 2).

A day before, the FCC had voted to eliminate the requirement that broadcasters keep paper copies of the FCC's rules on hand.

O'Rielly said there were already electronic copies of documents--decisions, reports, notices--comprising the FCC Record, a series of bound volumes the Government Printing Office issues. The last available year's worth (2016) amounted to 17 volumes comprising 14,129 pages.

Since the FCC already compiles the information for GPO, O'Rielly recommends that it just publish it electronically as a PDF on the Web site.

"To aid in consumer functionality, the Commission could also establish a separate webpage that consisted of only PDF Record compilations," he said.

"Ultimately, replacing paper copies of the FCC Record with an electronic version would save scarce federal funding, be more accessible for interested parties, and result in less paper waste.  That seems worth the limited effort needed to make it a reality," he said.

A spokesperson for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who would have to tee up such a change, was not available for comment at press time.  

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.