The FCC public demo of the database took place today (July 17th).
An archived video of the presentation is now available on the FCC web site. It runs 48 minutes.
The database has been developed in connection with the FCC’s recent Order requiring television broadcast stations to post their public inspection files online in a central, Commission-hosted database. These rules go into effect August 2, 2012. The demonstration is part of the commitment made by the Commission to test the online public file and educate the public regarding its use.
TV stations had already been required to provide public access to political ad spending information. But in order to get the data, a person had to go to the station in-person. The new rules make the information more accessible.
Greg Elin, chief data officer of the FCC, said the interface incorporates aspects of social media, in an attempt to make the system more intuitive. For example, each station will have its own profile page and there’s an activity feed showing what information was updated by a particular broadcast station.
The FCC anticipates an initial surge of public interest in the online files. Elin said there were plans to cache some info and supply cloud redundancy. But he also said TV stations would be on separate hardware so that their ability to post would not be affected by that surge.
It is that surge of interest, particularly among competitors, that is of as much concern to broadcasters as the logistics of posting the info.
NAB has sued the commission over the online posting issue. The FCC declined to delay implementation until the court weighs in. Both the FCC and the Obama Administration want the reporting to kick in in the current political cycle.