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The FCC Proposes Notifying Public of Applications Online


FCC
FCC

The FCC is moving to notify the public of applications through the Internet, in conjunction with broadcast announcements, while considering simplifying the rule. In October, 2017, the Commission issued the NPRM to seek comment on whether to update or even eliminate the requirement. After considering the comments filed in response, the agency is proposing to eliminate the requirement to publish written public notice in newspapers, replacing newspaper publication with online written notice.

The Commission believes that placing the written notice in newspapers is costly to the applicant, appears in the newspaper only intermittently and at best provides the reader with an abridged version of the filed application. Conversely, online notice would reduce the cost burden to the applicant, in most cases would remain online continuously for a longer period of time than newspaper publication, and more importantly would link directly to the filed application itself, giving the reader direct access to the primary source material rather than the summary in current newspaper public notices.

The FCC says that given the transition to electronically filed applications and online public inspection files, online notice more effectively informs members of the public as to the elements of, and the parties filing, a given application. Moreover, it noted that such online notice is provided at no cost to consumers. At the same time, the FCC also proposed to streamline both on-air and online written public notices.

The Commission further proposed to replace detailed application descriptions with directions on how viewers and listeners can review applications in Commission databases. Thus, proposing to retain the basic structure of applicants' public notice obligations, but to modernize and streamline the process by substitutingonline notices for newspaper publication and by standardizing and simplifying those notices.

The agency is proposing that those broadcasters currently required to provide newspaper notice of a filed application should instead provide notice online, and that online notice should link to the actual online application available in the Commission-hosted Online Public Inspection File (OPIF). It further propose that broadcasters currently required to give public notice by on-air announcements should make simpler and less frequent announcements that emphasize referring viewers and listeners to OPIF. The schedule of such announcements be the same for all applicants, broadcast services, and application types.

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