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Noncoms Encourage Pai Regulatory Weed-Whacking

Public broadcasters are supporting FCC chairman Ajit Pai's weed-whacking of some of what they see as outmoded regulations, including having to provide the FCC with lists of programs or issues and having to run educational/informational (E/I) on-screen bugs. They also back "reevaluating" FCC EEO rules.

That is according to a Jan. 19 filing with the FCC on a meeting between executives of PBS, CBP, NPR and America's Public Television Stations. 

"Public Broadcasting expressed appreciation for the Commission’s efforts to date to eliminate or modify regulations that are outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome," said Talia Rosen, assistant general counsel and senior director, standards & practices, for PBS, in the ex parte letter outlining the meeting's talking points.

The noncom groups say lifting some regulatory requirements will help them better redirect their limited resources to "the highest and best use."Rosen wrote that the meeting, with the chief and members of the Media Bureau, focused on five top noncom deregulatory priorities.

Related: Court Rules Noncoms Can Accept Paid and Political Ads

"(i) overhaul of the noncommercial public inspection file rules in Section 73.3527, including elimination of the issues/programs list requirement; (ii) alignment of the satellite broadcast signal carriage rules in Section 76.66 with the cable rules by instituting a one-time noncommercial licensee election rather than a recurring election cycle; (iii) removal of the children’s programming E/I on-screen symbol requirement in Section 73.671 from public broadcasting stations that are already not subject to the rule’s reporting requirements; (iv) elimination of the station identification rule in Section 73.1201 or, alternatively, if the Commission decides to retain a station identification requirement, providing stations with the option of conveying the information via a website rather than over-the-air; and (v) re-evaluation of the equal employment opportunities rule in Section 73.2080 given overlapping oversight and enforcement elsewhere at the federal, state, and local level."

Making the satellite must-carry election of noncoms a one-time rather than recurring duty would have clearly benefitted KMTP San Francisco. The FCC earlier this week ruled that satellite carrier Dish was within its rights to deny must carry to the noncommercial TV station because the station used Priority Express Mail rather than certified mail to make its recurring must-carry election, signaling that the station's letter was trumped by the letter of the FCC rules.