Fwd: Headlines: Disclosure of Public Interest Activities by

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 5 Jan 1999 10:47:47 -0800 (PST)

>As noted last month, the President's Advisory Committee on Public Interest
>Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters sent its recommendations to
>Vice President Gore on December 18. The report, Charting the Digital
>Broadcasting Future, is ~160 pages. It is available online as a large PDF
>file, but we wanted to offer some "bite-sized" chunks that are easier to
>read and digest. We welcome comments on the report and will be happy to make
>them all available on a website that will be the online home of the PIAC
>legacy at <www.benton.org/PIAC>.
>Recommendation 1:
>Disclosure of Public Interest Activities by Broadcasters
>Digital broadcasters should be required to make enhanced disclosures of
>their public interest programming and activities on a quarterly basis, using
>standardized check-off forms that reduce administrative burdens and can be
>easily understood by the public.
>Effective self-regulation by the broadcast industry in the public interest
>requires the availability to the public of adequate information about what a
>local broadcaster is doing. Some valuable information is currently made
>available. For example, all television broadcasters must prepare and place
>in their public file separate quarterly reports on their non-entertainment
>programming responsive to ascertained community needs and on their
>children’s programming.(2) The Advisory Committee recommends that the
>Federal Communications Commission require that these reports be augmented by
>the addition of more information on stations’ public interest programs and
>activities. That information should include but not be limited to
>contributions to political discourse, public service announcements,
>children’s and educational programming, local programming, programming that
>meets the needs of underserved communities, and community-specific
>activities. The Advisory Committee does not intend that such efforts should
>be onerous to broadcasters, but they should make readily available the most
>important information for community groups and other members of the public
>to assess. Information reporting requirements established for implementing
>the Children’s Television Act (CTA) are a useful model. Under the CTA,
>broadcasters must identify and describe the programming, when it was aired,
>and how it meets the broadcaster’s obligation to serve the public. They are
>encouraged to submit electronic reports of this programming via the
>Internet. A possible form using a checkoff approach is included in Appendix A.
>At the same time, digital television broadcasters should take steps to
>distribute such public interest information more widely, perhaps through
>cooperation with local newspapers and/or local program guides so that
>viewers can more readily identify and evaluate the efforts local
>broadcasters are making to address their interests. Similarly, many local
>television stations now maintain Internet websites where they could post on
>a regular basis this kind of information.
>Greater availability of relevant information will increase awareness and
>promote continuing dialogue between digital television broadcasters and
>their communities and provide an important self-audit to the broadcasters.
>(2) 2 See 47 C. F. R. §3526 (a)(8)(i), (iii) and 47 C.F.R. §3527 (a)(7).
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld