FCC’s Trumpist Trajectory Intensifies

The rotten hubris that is the Trump administraton is in full bloom at the FCC. It began when its leadership refused to defend core communications principles like free speech and press and flourished when they swore fealty to hypercapitalism and preemptively demonized those who may oppose their policy agenda. Now the dirty tricks have arrived. It’s all so far outside the already-troublesome norm of how media policy is made as to be head-spinning.

Let’s begin with the agency’s effort to repeal network neutrality regulations. An issue that’s overly complicated in most news coverage, the nation turns to John Oliver to make sense of it. He’s done this twice now – most recently in May, and as before his coverage inspired millions to visit the FCC’s public-comment site and make their thoughts known on the issue.

The first time, the public response in favor of net neutrality was so overwhelming that it crashed the FCC’s servers. This time, the system went down again…but the FCC claims that it was due to a malicious attack of unknown origin. According to (now-gone) Chief Information Officer David Bray, as Oliver’s latest segment went to air, “the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic. . .[they] were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC.” Read More

Removing the Public From Public Files

The FCC is currently considering a proposed rulemaking to radically change the content of the public files maintained by broadcast stations. Within the last few years, the agency has deliberated and approved changes in the way public files must be kept: everything’s moving online now, which will ostensibly make both maintaining and browsing public files easier on broadcasters and the viewing/listening public.

The migration of public files online is happening gradually; television stations went first and now radio stations are following on. Radio stations in the top 50 markets must make their public files available online by no later than June 24th. Public files contain a plethora of information about any given station; for commercial broadcasters, this includes station engineering specifications, hiring practices, political/public-interest programming, and correspondence with the public directly. Read More

Official Reply Comments on LPFM

Another important deadline has come and gone in the FCC’s current proceeding to create a low power FM radio service. Back in August, public Comments on the proposal were due – the latest round of debate has been conducted via Reply Comments, which give anyone the opportunity to rebut something someone else said during the Comment phase.

I have to admit these weren’t worded nearly as diplomatically as my original Comments were, but, hey, at this point everyone’s arguments are on the table, and the time to be tactful is running short.

Reply Comments were due to the FCC November 15th; it will take the next step on the proposal within the next few months. Read More

The Road Ahead

Monday, August 2 was the deadline for getting comments in on the FCC’s low power radio proposal. Considering the apathy rampant in the American public, getting more than 1,200 comments on an FCC rulemaking is a tremendous accomplishment.

Many thanks and extreme kudos go to everyone who submitted comments in favor of the proposal – see how numbers can impress?

Two weeks have passed, and late-filed comments continue to pour in (1,600+ total, at latest count). But what’s everybody saying?

First of all, not everybody that wanted to speak, could. The FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) was not designed for or prepared to handle the incredible demand placed on it by proponents of low power radio. They overwhelmed and crashed the system July 29-30. Even when it was back up and running, it was traffic was extremely heavy (I had to try five times to get my comments in). Read More

Official Comments on LPFM

If you haven’t filed comments with the FCC on MM-9925, the proposal for creation of a low power FM radio service, your time is running out. Comments must be in the hands of the Commission by August 2. They don’t have to be as detailed as these, but you should send in something, even if it’s a one-sentence email saying “I think LPFM is a good idea.”

Don’t let this opportunity pass you by! So far more than 900 comments have been filed on the LPFM proposal, and the vast majority are in favor of the idea.

These comments are officially filed! Now, onto the fun: Read More