FCC's Pai Says Yea To AM Revitalization, Nay To Public Correspondence Rule, Cross-Ownership Prohibition In Kansas Speech
October 12, 2016 at 6:29 AM (PT)
FCC Commissioner AJIT PAI reiterated his positions on several radio issues to the KANSAS ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS on TUESDAY (10/11), including AM revitalization, cross-ownership, public files, and emergency alerts.
On AM revitalization, PAI said that the plan is "already paying off" and cited the importance of FM translators to help AM stations survive and the rule changes that will "make a real difference to AM broadcasters. They’ll make it easier for stations to improve their signal quality. They’ll give stations more flexibility when it comes to site location. And they’ll reduce AM broadcasters’ operating costs." He said he would push for the opening of two more FM translator filing windows for AM stations in 2017.
PAI touted the move of television to the ATSC 3.0 specification as also being beneficial for emergency alert notifications, since the new standard allows for enhanced datacasting; he said he hopes that a notice of proposed rulemaking on ATSC 3.0 will be coming by the end of this year and will make the new standard optional rather than mandatory so stations can choose whether to participate.
The public file rules came under PAI's criticism, as the Commissioner again called for an end to the requirement that stations keep the paper versions of letters and emails from the public in the correspondence file, which he said "hardly anybody ever asks to see." He pointed out that dropping the requirement would allow stations to put their files entirely online.
And PAI repeated his disapproval of the Commission's actions on media ownership rules, criticizing the retention of restrictions on television joint sales agreements and calling the retention of newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership prohibitions a "profound mistake," saying, "put simply, it makes no sense for the federal government to discourage investment in the newspaper industry. But that’s precisely what the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule does.... the FCC’s decision to retain the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule had nothing to do with the facts, nothing to do the law, and nothing to do with common sense. Instead, it was all about politics. And I fear that at the rate we’re going, the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule will outlive newspapers themselves, absent judicial intervention."