Last month, the FCC launched a new proceeding with an extremely broad goal of modernizing its media regulations. The very brief (less than three page) Public Notice launching the proceeding, which Chairman Pai previewed in his speech at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, asks for comment on almost any media regulation considered “outdated, unnecessary, or unduly burdensome.” The Notice requests comment from broadcasters, cable operators, and satellite television providers, and applies to almost all regulations effecting the media industry. Notably, however, the Notice carves out from comment here media ownership rules, which are subject to quadrennial review under the Communications Act, and video accessibility rules, which the Notice points out were just revised under a complex legislative mandate. Other than these two areas, it seems that any aspect of media regulation is open for review in this proceeding.
In addition to the broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) specifically noted in the Notice, other entities with an interest in the media industry may want to monitor this proceeding as well. Among the rule sections the Commission identified as those most applicable to the proceeding were Parts 15 and 17 of the Commission’s rules, which govern radio frequency devices and antenna structures (i.e., towers), respectively. Any changes to those rules could clearly have impacts on players well outside the traditional media industries.
Where this proceeding ends up is a rather open question, as its scope is so potentially broad. It is almost certain to draw significant comment, as almost every regulatee in the media fields probably is eyeing at least a few regulations they would like to see repealed. Comments in the proceeding (MB Docket No. 17-105) are currently due on July 5, and reply comments on August 4. We will continue to monitor the proceeding and keep you updated. Please contact us if you are interested in participating.