The Report and Order and Fourth Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (R&O) overhauling the ownership reporting requirements for commercial broadcasters (and proposing to overhaul the corresponding requirements for noncommercial folks) has made it into the Federal Register. It showed up on May 27 in two parts: one encompassing the commercial end of things, the other encompassing the NCE end of things.
Normally, FedReg publication of newly-adopted rules establishes the effective date of those new rules. Not so here. Because the revised rules involve “information collection requirements”, they must first be reviewed and approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). (That’s because of the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), as our faithful readers may recall.) Since OMB has not yet given the new rules and related forms the thumbs up, those rules and forms are currently in regulatory limbo. If and when OMB gives the go-ahead, the FCC will issue a further announcement. We’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, the FedReg publication did establish the deadlines for comments on the proposals relative to NCE ownership reporting.
Comments are due by June 26, and reply comments by July 13.
Additionally, if you would like to comment on the PRA aspects of both the proposed NCE rules and the already-adopted-but-not-yet-effective commercial rules, you may do so until July 27. Note that the opportunity to comment on the adopted rules is not highlighted by any means in the Federal Register. That is, it isn’t mentioned in the “Dates” section which appears prominently toward the beginning of the item; rather, it’s kind of, well, buried in the middle of the fourth page of teeny-tiny, single-space Federal Register type. While that seems a pretty unenthusiastic way to invite comments, we’re sure that the invitation is nonetheless sincere and that your PRA comments will be welcomed with open arms (and equally open minds) at the Commission.
The specific PRA questions you are invited to comment on are: (a) Whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the Commission, including whether the information shall have practical utility; (b) the accuracy of the Commission’s burden estimates; (c) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected; and (d) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on the respondents, including the use of automated collection techniques or other forms of information technology.
As to the “Commission’s burden estimates” on which comment is invited, we’re not sure what those particular estimates might be. There do not appear to be any specific, quantified estimates of anticipated “burdens” set out in either of the Federal Register items. That may make it difficult to comment on such estimates. So if you are inclined to file comments, good luck.