July 25, 2016 – On Friday our Washington law firm (Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP) filed comments with the FCC regarding MB Docket No. 16-161, the proposal to eliminate the requirement that letters and e-mails from the public be kept in station public inspection files.
NHAB and all of the other State Broadcast Associations strongly support the elimination of this onerous and time-consuming requirement.
The Friday filing pointed out that the public is far more likely to communicate via social media than by letters delivered through the U.S. mail. Technology has unquestionably changed the fundamental way people communicate.
Since radio stations are transitioning into online public files (and TV stations have been there for several years), public correspondence was the last remaining trace of paper files. Eliminating the archaic rule will free up staff for more productive endeavors.
Other FCC-regulated businesses are not required to maintain public correspondence so the abolition of the requirement will bring about regulatory parity.
The smallest radio stations (those with fewer than 5 full-time employees) aren’t required to move their public files to the online platform until 2018, though elimination of the paper correspondence file may provide the impetus to make the move sooner.