WASHINGTON (August 26, 2004) — A proposed change in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules to make broadcasters maintain archives of the programs they air would help the public better oppose indecency, according to testimony submitted to the FCC from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The testimony, prepared by Katherine G. Grincewich, a USCCB assistant general counsel, also urged the FCC to establish enforceable requirements to force broadcasters to serve the public interest.
The testimony was offered August 27 in Washington.
"USCCB supports the Commission's proposed rules to require broadcasters to maintain archives of programs aired by the broadcast licensees to enable the public to acquire evidence that indecent material has been aired," she said. "The current procedure for indecency complaints, which puts the initial burden on listeners and viewers to obtain a transcript from the broadcaster of the program at issue, but does not require the broadcaster to provide it when requested by the listener or viewer, inhibits the appropriate enforcement of indecency rules. Absent a transcript or tape, the Commission is forced to make its initial decision based on a listener's or viewer's memory alone, a situation unfair to the complainant, the broadcaster and the Commission," Ms. Grincewich added.
Ms. Grincewich also urged the FCC to do more to make broadcasters serve the public interest.
"The Commission must move decisively and open for public comment a rulemaking to establish clear, enforceable requirements that broadcasters determine the needs and interests of their communities of license, air at least a minimum amount of public affairs, news and independently produced programs which meet those needs and interests, and report to the public their actions," Ms. Grincewich said.
The USCCB has extensive experience producing, funding and placing quality programming for TV, radio and cable outlets. It is committed to maintaining a place for religion and values on the public airwaves and to programming that inspires, informs and educates.
"Protection of the public's right to file complaints about the broadcast of indecent speech … is a matter of particular concern to the USCCB," Ms. Grincewich said.