Office of Communications, Inc.

UCC Media Justice Update

Bringing Broadcasters into the 21st Century

United Church of Christ, OC Inc. and its partners in the Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition are looking forward to a FCC vote this Thursday October 27 that will help members of the public understand the role of TV broadcasters by improving the relevance of publicly-available information and moving it online by next summer.

Building on years of fact-finding, the FCC is poised this week to start a proceeding that will quickly modernize the current antiquated system of TV broadcaster public files—which members of the public must currently visit in-person at a station’s studio.   “The current system requires someone to travel to an out-of-the-way office, takes valuable staff time of the broadcaster, and produces information of questionable relevance,” said Cheryl A. Leanza, Policy Advisor to the United Church of Christ’s media advocacy ministry, OC Inc.

The new proposed system is based on a streamlined proposal submitted to the FCC over the summer by several members of PIPAC, building on the Commission’s Future of Media Report.  The Report recommended bringing broadcasters into the 21st century by moving disclosure out of the file cabinet and on to the Internet.  In addition, the proposal will reduce the tracking burden from a 365 days per year requirement imposed by the Bush FCC into a statistically-valid sample consisting of two weeks per quarter. 

Under this proposal, citizens and journalists will be able to find out what broadcasters are doing to serve their communities.  Broadcasters that are doing a good job will have a modern platform to demonstrate their achievements.  The FCC’s new system will be a conduit that brings broadcaster information together in a single, easy-to-use place.  The public interest proposal included an option for broadcasters to develop their own categories to showcase content that particularly serves their own communities.  A summary of the streamlined PIPAC proposal is available here.

Most important to UCC OC Inc. and its PIPAC allies is that the FCC’s rules become effective by next summer, in time for the extra interest in broadcasting brought about by the 2012 elections. “We will be able to learn more about what broadcasters are doing to cover the elections than in any past cycle,” said Leanza, “this information will help all communities understand who is doing the best job covering our elected leaders in an increasingly crowded media space.”

The Public Interest Public Airwaves Coalition is a loose federation of organizations including:  Benton Foundation, U.S. Catholic Conference, Campaign Legal Center, Media Access Project, Free Press, New America Foundation, and the United Church of Christ, OC Inc. represented by Georgetown Law Center's Institute for Public Representation.

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