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Broadcasters fight FCC plan to require saving of all programming

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    News Media Update         WASHINGTON, D.C.         Broadcasting    

Broadcasters fight FCC plan to require saving of all programming

  • The National Association of Broadcasters, the Association of Public Television Stations and National Public Radio have filed comments opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to require broadcasters to record and archive all of their programming.

Sep. 20, 2004 — A Federal Communications Commission plan to require broadcasters to record and archive all of their programming 24/7 is overbroad, punitive, expensive and violates copyright law and the First Amendment, broadcasters argue in comments filed with commission.

The proposal would make it easier for listeners and viewers to file indecency complaints with the FCC by requiring stations to keep readily available copies of all their programming for a set period of time — the FCC has suggested 60 to 90 days. Current rules put the burden of producing copies of alleged indecency on the listener or viewer filing an FCC complaint.

“This rule is overly broad and unduly burdensome, infringes on the First Amendment rights of broadcasters, may potentially interfere with contractual obligations, may expose broadcasters to copyright infringement liability, and poses a financial administrative burden on broadcasters, especially smaller broadcasters,” one small-market broadcaster said in comments to the FCC, reported by Broadcasting & Cable .

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has long complained that the documentation requirement puts too heavy a burden on the public and that stations should have to record and make copies of their own programming available.

The National Association of Broadcasters, the Association of Public Television Stations and National Public Radio wrote the FCC opposing its plan. Opponents and supporters of the plan have until Sept. 27 to file written comments with the FCC. The NAB has a direct link on its Web site to the FCC comments page and is urging broadcasters to continue filing opposing comments.

The NAB makes part of its argument that the FCC is already successfully chilling content and forcing stations to self-censor. It also points out that the FCC itself concedes that only 1% of complaints are dismissed for lack of documentation.

Noncommercial stations say that the FCC should exempt them from the rules because they have not been cited for indecency and cannot afford recording and archiving all their programs. The noncommercial stations also suggested that the FCC make the reporting requirement a sanction for repeat violators, according to Broadcasting & Cable .

KC

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