Make Stations Keep Tab


Editor: BROADCASTING & CABLE 's editorial "Let's Not Go to the
Videotape" (9/6, page 26), states that there "is no compelling ... interest in
forcing stations to log everything they air and make it readily available to
the general public."

On the contrary, a programming archive is essential to ensuring that the
FCC has the information it needs to effectively oversee the broadcast industry.
As the regulatory agency responsible for the management of our nation's
telecommunications, the FCC needs appropriate, complete information to
determine whether broadcast license holders are fulfilling their statutory
public-interest obligations. The failure of the FCC to effectively exercise its
responsibilities is due in part to the current lack of such information.

A programming archive maintained in stations' public files would also
enable citizens, watchdog organizations and media scholars to conduct
systematic research on broadcaster performance in a variety of areas:
children's educational programming, public-affairs programming, civic and
electoral discourse, programming that serves underprivileged communities, etc.
Such studies could provide the FCC with much-needed data as it considers
license renewals and rule changes.

Finally, a mandated programming archive would not impose an unreasonable
financial burden on broadcast stations, as you claim. A VHS-quality audio/video
archive of a television station's locally produced programming maintained for a
60-day period would, at most, cost a few thousand dollars per year. An archive
of only the closed-captioning transcripts of such programming would cost less
than $1 per year per station.

Meredith McGehee, Executive director, Alliance for Better
(Received via