NAB Says FCC Should Wrap Up Overdue 2018 Regulatory Review ASAP

FCC shield on phone
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The National Association of Broadcasters is suggesting the FCC is putting the 2018 quadrennial review cart before the 2022 quadrennial horse, asking the agency to finish its 2018 review before starting the next one.

The Federal Communications Commission is under a congressional directive in the 1996 Telecommunications Act to periodically review its regulations — first biennially, then changed to quadrennially — and repeal or modify any rules it concludes are not in the public interest.

The FCC recently sought input on the 2022 review of the rules but NAB asked in a filing Thursday (February 2) that the FCC temporarily suspend that proceeding, including comment deadlines, until it has actually completed the 2018 review, preferably by the end of March.

The 2018 quadrennial review was on hold after a legal challenge by broadcasters, which was generally resolved by a Supreme Court decision two years ago supporting the stations.

The FCC actually closed the formal comment period on its delayed 2018 Quadrennial Review two years ago, but the Media Bureau, in opening up a new comment period last April, said: “The 2018 Quadrennial Review proceeding has generated, and continues to generate, significant interest, including through the submission of additional information even after the initial comment period has ended. Accordingly, we ask commenters to take this opportunity to update the record in the 2018 Quadrennial Review proceeding, including with regard to the diversity-related proposals cited therein.”

Failing to complete the 2018 review while the broadcaster appeal was still working its way through the courts may have made sense, but no longer, said the association. “Continuing to refrain from resolving the 2018 review, while appearing to initiate the 2022 review and requesting comments, data and studies from interested parties, is contrary to [law] and places undue burdens on stakeholders’ effective participation in the quadrennial review process,” NAB said. “Given the existing analog-era ownership rules’ negative competitive impact on our radio and TV station members, NAB urges the FCC to act expeditiously on our requests.” ▪️

John Eggerton

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.