Broadcasters: We're already serving locals

More rules, regulations not the answer, they say

WASHINGTON -- The nation's broadcasters told federal regulators that they are already serving their local towns and cities, and that any move to make them even more local would backfire.

In comments filed at the FCC the broadcasters told the commission that imposing more regulations, including rules that establish advisory boards that include "underserved" segments of their communities and guidelines that ensure broadcasters supply "some locally oriented" programming put the cart before the horse.

"Instead of achieving the Commission's stated goal of promoting closer contact between broadcasters and their communities, the proposed rule changes will, in many cases, produce the opposite effect, resulting in a broadcasting industry less able to serve the public interest," the National Association of Broadcasters said.

The FCC proposed the new rules in December following a series of hearings examining the issue.

Other broadcasters' comments echoed the NAB's, with Disney telling the commission that its localism requirements would ultimately lead the government to dictate content because the panel will have to define what it actually means by local and what programming would be covered.

"Such inquiries clearly indicate that the FCC would ultimately state a preference for certain types of local programming over others (i.e., sports, discussed above, or weather, another local issue of particular interest and importance to viewers and listeners), and this raises serious constitutional issues," the company wrote.

Broadcasters contend that they are already doing what the FCC wants anyway.

"Disney respectfully submits that a government regulation to produce better, more, or different types of local programming for stations that already are providing many hours of local programming is counterproductive," the company wrote.