In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) required broadcast television stations to begin uploading all of their public files to an online FCC database. At the time, however, the FCC declined to expand that obligation to radio broadcasters, cable television systems or satellite TV operators. Today, the FCC issued a Public Notice requesting comments on whether to now expand the online public file requirement to additional entities, pursuant to a Petition for Rulemaking filed by several public interest groups. In so doing, the FCC noted that television stations have uploaded more than half a million items to the FCC’s online file and that the online public file site has generated nearly 5 million page views.
Having public files available online makes it easy for the public to access them. As television broadcasters have learned, it also makes it easier for the FCC to find violations and levy forfeitures for noncompliance. Although the Petition filed by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause and the Sunlight Foundation requests expansion of the online public file requirement only to cable systems and satellite operators, the FCC is seeking comments on whether to expand the online public file requirement to broadcast radio stations as well. The Commission requests that comments be filed by Aug. 28, 2014, with reply comments due by Sept. 8, 2014.