Does The FCC Have The Right To Investigate PPM?
May 18, 2009 at 12:01 PM (PT)
There is much speculation as to whether this NOI will amount to very much, but more so, comments and questions from all over wondering if the FCC has jurisdiction on ARBITRON and PPM.
ALL ACCESS spoke to DRINKER, BIDDLE & REATH partner and broadcast attorney HOWARD LIBERMAN for his comments. "My initial thought is that this is an example acting Chairman COPPS being interested in consumer issues. Public interest takes into account several things -- the importance of keep free broadcasting viable, spectrum management in the public interest.
"In a sense he's like a RALPH NADER and is looking at what he thinks is in the public interest. Someone might ask, 'Where is it in the COMMUNICATIONS ACT, which governs the FCC, does it say that the FCC can regulate a ratings company that doesn't use the spectrum?' But the FCC regulates cable as it's ancillary to broadcasting. COPPS figures if it's important to have minorities in broadcasting it's important that we look at PPM if it's potentially affecting minorities ability to remain in broadcasting.
"Longer term, it's a Notice Of Inquiry and he's not going to be running the FCC for very long. He's asking if we should do something in the public interest on this matter. By the time it gets to the next step, Chairman JULIUS GENACHOWSKI will be in place and the FCC will have as many as three other new commissioners in place. While this is all interesting and reflects what COPPS is about, will it result in any formal rulings? My guess is no."