PBS TECHNOLOGY CONFERENCE Kevin P. Latek, Member Dow, Lohnes & Albertson, pllc
Nitty-Gritty Nuts and Bolts What every station staffer should know about everyday operational issues for public TV that involve the FCC
Now Playing! TV License Renewal Cycles – Top 10 Words of Wisdom Start early on renewal preparation Inventory public file (see handout) Review Issues/Programs list procedures (see handout) Get up to speed on EEO requirements (and keep up with those)
TV Renewal Cycles – Do’s and Don’ts Check in with the university/in house counsel –Make appropriate inquiries to board members, officers, etc. about adverse adjudications –Review/Track down status of any EEO complaints against station Take renewal seriously Review all FCC renewal forms/instructions carefully
TV Renewal Cycles – Do’s and Don’ts If in doubt about whether the station can certify, investigate If still in doubt after investigation, or if investigation reveals a problem, disclose fully Certifications are under penalty of perjury
FCC Public Inspection File Top 8 Words of Wisdom The most OCD person at the station should be in charge of the public file Get a checklist of what should be in the file and do an inventory Beware of “thick” files – no extraneous materials (no confidential memos) Update timely – station will have to certify as to this at renewal time (under penalty of perjury)
Public File -- Top 8 Ensure accessibility – teach custodian of file about procedures Never refuse a visitor access to the file, if the visitor requests access Recall that NCE stations DO NOT need to keep letters from the public in the file (only commercial stations) Understand the “policy rationale” behind the public inspection file rule… and why the FCC thinks it is so important.
Record Retention Basics Quick Overview Public file material retention (see Handout) Update on program recording rulemaking
Children’s Programming and the E/I Bug Kids programming – from the FCC’s viewpoint Why the E/I Bug? When, where and how for the E/I Bug? Multicast streams and children’s programming
What if… What if…a station kinda sorta was not in compliance with an FCC rule or rules….what can they expect will happen? It Depends….. On how the station found out about the noncompliance
FCC Enforcement Finding out on your own – fix ASAP and do memo to private (not public) station files explaining situation and remedy Somebody else points it out (to you or to FCC) – fix ASAP and brace yourself…. FCC issues an inquiry letter, NAL or something else – get out your tap dancin’ shoes (and your wallet)
The Ever Changing Indecency Landscape Last year at this time… –Golden Globe Decision –Aftermath of Superbowl wardrobe malfunction –“Zero tolerance” atmosphere
The Indecency Landscape A lot can happen in a year…. –Saving Private Ryan –Frontline – A Company of Soldiers –The impact of watch dog groups on the FCC and on individual station decisions
Practical Advice on Indecency: The Golden Rules Know thy audience Know thy governing board (especially important for institutional licensees) Know the limits of thy pocketbook Make informed decisions about playing it safe, vs. taking calculated risks, vs. angling to be a “test case”
Audience Participation Time Questions? Comments? Concerns?