FCC Extends Comment Deadlines on Localism Proposals

Comments Now Due April 28, Responses June 11

The Federal Communications Commission will give broadcasters and others more time to weigh in on its proposed new localism rules, which could require stations to convene community advisory boards to help determine public-interest programming, and even mandate the types and amount of local programming provided, among numerous other proposals.

The notice of proposed rulemaking on broadcast localism was adopted Dec. 18 as part of FCC chairman Kevin Martin's attempts to close the book on a media-ownership-rule revise. It was released Jan. 24, and then published in the Federal Register Feb. 18, after which the FCC gave interested parties 30 days to comment, then another 30 days for responses to those comments. That put the deadlines at March 14 and April 14, respectively.

But the FCC extended those dates to April 28 and June 11, respectively, after broadcasters and others asked for more time, saying that it did not routinely do so but that it recognized that it could take more time to vet the issues and respond to the "extensive comments." The agency also pointed out that no one had opposed the extension.

The commission has taken some heat from Capitol Hill over how much time it was, or wasn't, providing for public comment on its media-ownership proposals.

Given that extra time, the National Association of Broadcasters has asked its members to start weighing in at the FCC. It has put a "call to action" on its Web site, asking broadcasters to let the FCC know how well they are already serving their communities, from emergency weather information to Amber alerts.