FCC Gets Group Hug for Tree-Saving Proposal

Licensees weigh in on scrapping hard-copy rules requirement

Broadcast and cable operators have told the FCC they are all for doing away with the FCC regulation requiring regulated companies to keep paper copies of those regulations handy.

While licensees must still be familiar with the rules, they could just bone up on them digitally, if they prefer, if the FCC drops the hard-copy requirement.

Eliminating the requirement, in the age of digital storage and the internet, was the first of what FCC chair Ajit Pai has said will be at least one item per month on the regulatory chopping block.

"The apparent purpose of this obligation is to help ensure that broadcasters are familiar with the rules governing their service," the National Association of Broadcasters said, echoing Pai's explanation for proposing the change. "These requirements, however, were established more than 40 years ago, and no longer reflect modern realities about the way in which we acquire and process information."

The American Cable Association said it "commends the commission for its efforts to clear the regulatory underbrush through its Media Modernization initiative and fully supports the rule eliminations proposed in the NPRM [notice of proposed rulemaking]."

Said the NCTA-The Internet & Television Association: "The cable industry supports the Commission’s common sense proposal to eliminate rules requiring cable entities to maintain paper copies of commission regulations. Doing so will help to advance the commission’s goal of reducing outdated regulations and unnecessary regulatory burdens that can impede competition and innovation in media markets."

Noncommercial broadcasters also added their voice to the chorus.

"Public Broadcasting believes that the proposed modernized rules appropriately preserve the original intent of the rules in the modern day given the availability of commission rules online," said America’s Public Television Stations, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Public Broadcasting Service in their comments.

The FCC docket so far has no comments opposing the move.