Public broadcasters have asked the FCC to exempt them from
any new "burdensome" reporting requirements, arguing that their
delivery of programming of interest to their communities is self-evident.
In comments on the FCC's proposal to require online
reporting of station information, including potentially additional information
about what types of programming they are airing, CPB, PBS and the Association
of Public Television Stations (APTS) said that any new programming disclosure
rules should include a safe-harbor for CPB-qualified TV station licensees who
submit relevant portions of the studies and surveys they already have to
conduct and submit to CPB.
The FCC tentatively concluded that noncom stations should
not get a carve-out from proposals to make station info more accessible online,
including possibly replacing the current issues/programs list with more
detailed descriptions of programming. PBS et al want to meet any new
reporting requirements by submitting portions of the Station Activities
Benchmarking Study (SABS) and Station Activity Survey 9SAS) they already file
annually with CPB. They point out those already provide info on how stations
are serving their communities.
Making those surveys, with sensitive financial info
withheld, available on the FCC's Web site "would provide members of the
public with ready access to this information and allow them to evaluate Public
Television Licensees' programming activities," the noncoms argue, while
avoiding imposing new info collection burdens on cash-strapped stations.
"We support the Commission's effort to standardize
information about their public interest programming and activities," said Lonna
Thompson, executive VP and general counsel of APTS, in a statement. "However,
we strongly encourage the Commission to exempt public television licensees from
burdensome reporting requirements given public television licensees'
demonstrated success in delivering upon their mission to provide programming
that addresses the needs and interests of their local communities."