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FCC Releases Notice of Inquiry on Standardized Reporting Form

November 14, 2011

Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comment on a proposed standardized disclosure form for television stations that will replace the current issues/programs list.  The Commission continues to believe that a standardized form will facilitate access to information on how licensees serve the public interest and improve broadcaster accountability to the public, though it concedes that the Form 355 as adopted in the 2007 Enhanced Disclosure Report and Order was "overly burdensome" for broadcasters.  Thus, the Commission proposes changes to the form to "substantially reduce" the burden it will impose on broadcasters.

Specifically, the FCC indicates that a sample approach to reporting (rather than reporting all programming aired for each category included in the form) would provide sufficient information to the public while lessening the burden on broadcasters, and it seeks comment on this approach.  In addition, the Commission seeks comment on the specific reporting categories that should be included on the standardized form, including further clarification on reporting requirements for news, local civic/government affairs, local electoral affairs, closed captioning and video description and emergency accessibility complaints.