The FCC is considering whether to extend its online public file requirement beyond just TV broadcasters to cable and satellite providers, as well as radio broadcasters. NRB filed comments this week with the agency in support of concerns expressed by a number of individual religious broadcasters, including Blount Communications, Educational Media Foundation, First Dallas Media, LeSea Broadcasting, and Northwestern Media. NRB’s filing delved considerably into the need to protect the identities of donors to NCE stations. Asserting that there is a “qualitative difference” between donor information in a NCE radio station’s physical public inspection file versus having it on the World Wide Web, the association stated, “[I]t is dubious to suggest that some Internet-trolling person in Los Angeles, or in Miami, for instance, would have any tangible, substantial ‘public interest’ in learning the identity of local residents in Ohio who donate to a noncommercial religious radio station that happens to carry a controversial talk show.” As a case in point, NRB cited the harassment and violence to supporters of California’s pro-marriage Proposition 8 once their names and addresses were posted online by the state government. NRB urged the Commission to exempt from such a new requirement all radio stations with fewer than five full-time employees, and to completely exempt noncommercial (NCE) stations.
By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations
Published: April 17, 2015