Meanwhile, FCC cranks up the Paperwork Reduction Act process

If you’re thinking about asking the FCC to reconsider its recent decision to move TV public files to an FCC-maintained cloud-based online system – or maybe if you’re more inclined to ask the courts to take a look at that decision – your deadlines for doing so have now been set. The Commission’s Second Report and Order, which we reported on last month, has now been published in the Federal Register. That means that (as dictated by Section 1.429 of the rules) petitions for reconsideration are due to be filed with the Commission no later than June 11, 2012.

On the other hand, thanks to 28 U.S.C. §2344, petitions for judicial review may be filed by July 10. Those can technically be filed with any of the federal courts of appeals, but heads up. If you’re hoping to have a particular circuit review the FCC’s order, you need to be mindful of the judicial lottery process and Section 1.13 of the rules. As implemented by the Commission, that process requires that, to be part of the judicial lottery, a petitioner has to file with the FCC’s General Counsel within 10 days of the Federal Register publication (in the case of the Second Report and Order in the public file proceeding, that would be May 21) a copy of its petition for review with the court of appeals of its choosing; that copy must bear a date/time stamp from that court proving that it was in fact filed. In other words, if you’re going to be picky about what circuit should hear the appeal, you’ve got to act much faster than the rules would otherwise allow.

This flurry of procedural dates does not, however, mean that the new public file rules are going to become effective in the immediate future. Before that can happen, the FCC has to run the new rules through the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) process, a process which the Commission has also just cranked up with a Federal Register notice. If you have any PRA-related thoughts to offer, you’ve got until June 11, 2012 to lob them in to the Commission. After that, the Commission will bundle up all the comments it receives and ship them over to the Office of Management and Budget, along with a supporting statement explaining why it think the new rules are consistent with the PRA. (The rules will then go into effect 30 days after the FCC announces in the Federal Register that OMB has approved the rules.  Check back here for updates on that score.)

By the way, according to the notice, PRA-related comments are supposed to address:

  • 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;
  • the accuracy of the Commission’s burden estimate;
  • ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information collected;
  • 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; and
  • ways to further reduce the information collection burden on small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.