While the FCC may take its own sweet time when it comes to getting its processes cranked up for some proceedings, that’s not always the case. Take, for instance, the proposal to move all TV “local” public files onto the FCC’s servers. That proposal popped up in a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released on October 27 and now, not even a month later, it’s shown up in the Federal Register. That FedReg publication, of course, establishes the comment deadlines – and there again, the Commission is wasting no time. Comments are due on December 22, 2011 (yup, that would be the Thursday before Christmas), and reply comments are due on January 6, 2012. Happy New Year!
Note that this proceeding is different from the proposed Form 355, which is separate and distinct from (but still clearly related to) the TV public file proposal. No word yet on when comments on proposed Form 355 will be due, but we’re guessing it’ll be sooner rather than later. Check back here for updates.
It may be tempting to write the on-line public file proposal off as a fait accompli – with the comment/reply comment process just an elaborate charade designed to afford technical compliance with the Administrative Procedure Act. After all, in the Form 355 Notice of Inquiry, the Commission acknowledges up-front that its goal there is to create a new form that “will be included in the new online public file.” (That quote is from Paragraph 2 of the NOI, if you’re looking.) Call us crazy, but that seems to suggest that the online public file is a done deal in the Commission’s mind. Still, it’s probably a good idea for interested parties to submit detailed, fact-based comments when they have the chance. Such comments could provide a useful record on appeal.