Broadcasters call measure overbroad, unfair.

The Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to require radio and TV stations to retain recordings of their programming has raised the ire of the National Assn. of Broadcasters (NAB), to the surprise of no one.

The FCC's proposal , issued July 7, is intended to shift the burden of indecency enforcement away from consumers -- who are generally required to include a tape or transcript when filing a programming complaint with the Commission -- toward the broadcasters themselves. The proposal would allow the FCC to have virtually any and all broadcast programming at its disposal, in the event of a filed complaint unaccompanied by a transcript or tape.

In comments filed with the Commission on Friday (Aug. 27), the NAB called the measure “extraordinarily overbroad and fundamentally unfair,” as well as “constitutionally suspect."

“An exceptionally small number of broadcast programs are ever the subject of indecency complaints, as the vast majority of complaints filed at the Commission concern literally a handful of programs,” the NAB wrote. “There are simply no grounds for the Commission to justify its astoundingly overbroad and punitive proposal, which will force thousands of broadcasters to record and retain tens of million of hours of programming.”

The FCC, in its proposal, is suggesting that all broadcasters, regardless of size or reach, maintain a record of all programming for a period of 60 or 90 days.

The NAB added, “In addition to equipment and personnel costs, the Commission’s proposal would entail the completely redundant recording by thousands of broadcast stations of the exact same television and radio network programming, syndicated programming and musical programming, virtually none of which will ever be the subject of an indecency complaint.”