Available vs. Accessible: Looking to Access the Public Files at Media Companies
Right now, the FCC is considering a rule that would digitize the “public file” at broadcast stations.
Why are journalists paying attention to this? The public files at each station contains a number of items, but one of the most interesting items to journalists is the “political file,” record of political ad buys. This list includes the amount spent and the buyers of political ads, information that is not readily available otherwise. Though the files are open to anyone, they are rarely seen by anyone in the public, since the information is on paper, sitting in file cabinets in individual stations.
The FCC is proposing to digitize the files, making them available online to the public. A number of media and advocacy organizations support this.
The National Association of Broadcasters has raised concerns about putting the political file on line and has made public comment. about how posting the material online would be “burdensome” and require continuous updates. Journalists and advocacy organizations that are interested in having the information online note that these updates include valuable information which is not being captured in a usable way now.
The public comment period has now been extended to January 17.
To read the comments offered so far, go here and enter proceeding number 00-168. To submit your own comment, click here. To read the FCC’s proposal in full, you can download it as a Word document from CJR at the bottom of this page. Would the proposed changes affect your work? Let us know in the comments how you think the FCC rule would impact journalists.
Here’s some additional information:
Local TV Disclosure Rule Would Put Political Ad Spending Online. FDL
Local TV, meet the internet. Columbia Journalism Review.
Why Journalists Should Weigh on on the FCC Disclosure Act while there is still time. Poynter (Note: Comment period was extended after publication)