FCC Demos Online File-Posting Tool

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The Federal Communications Commission Tuesday walked the public and interested stakeholders--those would include primarily broadcasters-- through the interface for the online database it has set up to make TV station public files, including online political files accessible nationwide.

The FCC is still working some bugs out.Greg Elin, identified as the chief architect of the system, said some applications still don't work with Internet Explorer, though they do with Mozilla and Firefox. Elin, who conducted the demonstration, said that the goal was to make it easy for stations to upload the info to the commission, as well as for the public to view it.
One feature, he said, would be an "activity feed" that would show how recently stations had updated the file, which in the case of online political files could be daily.
The FCC's own stream of the online workshop had some bugs of its own, with delays and freezes according to a couple of online watchers, but Elin said it was being recorded. He also said there would be how-to videos and a help line to ease the transition.
Taking a suggestion from the National Association of Broadcasters, said Elin, the application will feature drop boxes that can be synchronized with the FCC so that stations can just drag and drop files into a folder, or what Elin called sort of magic wormhole to the FCC.
FCC Media Bureau chief Bill Lake said that the FCC had been working with station representatives on the interface and called the online file postings a common-sense move from antiquated hard files in some 2,000 different locations at local stations.
There have been issues in the past with stations having to break up FCC filings that are too big, and Elin said there would still be a limit. But he said it would be large enough--tens of megs--that the FCC did not anticipate that would be an issue.
The FCC anticipates an initial surge of public interest in the online files. Elin said there were plans to cache some info and supply cloud redundancy. But he also said TV stations would be on separate hardware so that their ability to post would not be affected by that surge.
It is that surge of interest, particularly among competitors, that is of as much concern to broadcasters as the logistics of posting the info.
NAB has sued the commission over the online posting issue. The FCC declined to delay implementation until the court weighs in. Both the FCC and the Obama Administration want the reporting to kick in in the current political cycle.

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