Just in time, the FCC says it won't require TV stations to
post historic programs/issues lists to the FCC's website if their license
renewal has been held up for reasons other than those relating to those
programs or issues. The deadline for converting from paper to online files is
Feb. 4, 2013.
In April 2012, the FCC voted to require TV stations to post
their public files to the FCC's site so that the public could more closely
monitor their public interest performance. Among those files is a quarterly
list of the programming responsive to community needs.
The rule states that the stations must post all lists "until
final action has been taken on the station's next license renewal application."
For those whose renewals have not been deferred, however, that would be the
eight-year license term, but for those with deferrals -- and there are hundreds
of them, says the National Association of Broadcasters -- it could extend for
as many as 16 years, as was the case with KTSB Shreveport, La.
In granting a waiver to KTSB from that 16-year requirement,
the FCC said it was doing to because requiring 16 years' worth of info dating
back to the previous cycle could confuse the public -- although the station
promised to continue to make that info available in paper form at the station
and the FCC made that part of the waiver. The commission said it also
recognized making the station send it info back to 1997 was a burden.
"Having KTBS keep the 1997-2005 issues/programs lists
available at the station is a reasonable alternative to posting online,
alleviating the risk of confusion that could arise from posting the prior
renewal cycle lists, while also providing the public access to this
material," the Media Bureau said.
The FCC also said it would also grant waivers to other
similarly-situated stations, though they would also have to make sure the info
was available on paper at the station until final action on the license
renewal. The FCC defined similarly situated thusly: "[A] station's prior
renewal application must have been: 1) unopposed by any member of the public,
and 2) deferred due to enforcement matters unrelated to the station's
obligation to air programming responsive to the needs and interests of its
community or the recordkeeping related thereto."