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Updated 2017-05-24 23:25
FCC Begins Rollback of Net Neutrality Rules
On May 23, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing the reversal of the agency’s 2015 Title II Order which subjected Internet service providers (ISPs) to regulation as telecommunications services pursuant to Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended. In a 2-1 vote along partisan lines,...… Continue Reading
The Commission Extends Transition Progress Reporting Requirement to Non-Reimbursable Stations
Last week, the Commission adopted transition progress reporting requirements for broadcast television stations that will be changing channels during the post-incentive auction transition, but that are ineligible for reimbursement from the TV Broadcast Relocation Fund. The Commission had already decided back in January that TV stations eligible for reimbursement from the Fund would be required...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes to Eliminate Main Studio Rule for Broadcasters
On May 18, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission proposed to eliminate the rule requiring radio and television broadcasters to maintain a main studio located at or near a station’s community of license. The Commission proposed the repeal of the rule on the grounds that the ubiquity of electronic communications eliminated the necessity of a studio’s...… Continue Reading
FCC Temporarily Waives International Traffic Reporting Requirements
The Federal Communications Commission recently issued a temporary waiver of its international traffic and revenue reporting requirements while it contemplates a more permanent scaling-back of regulatory burdens associated with international telecommunications services. Long-time readers of our blog may recall that we reported on FCC “reductions” to international reporting obligations a few years ago – but...… Continue Reading
FCC Opens Broad Review of Wireless Siting Impediments
(Commission is looking for ways to streamline the site permitting process) At its April 2017 meeting, the FCC finally adopted a long awaited Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry addressing the many frustrations faced by tower builders, wireless carriers, and others who have run the painful and often lengthy gauntlet of getting...… Continue Reading
FCC v. Colbert – A Controversy Based on Truth or Truthiness?
Last Monday, during his monologue on the Late Show, Stephen Colbert made a number of jokes at President Donald Trump’s expense, including lobbing a series of insults at the President. (The full monologue is available here; check around 11:15 for the portion that has gotten folks talking). One of these insults, which included a joking...… Continue Reading
FCC Public Notice Seeks 411 on Broadband for Health IT
Imagine if all Americans had seamless remote access to doctors and hospitals throughout the country, if an individual in Angle Inlet, MN (total population of 60) could consult with a doctor in Minneapolis without ever having to leave the comfort of his own home, or if a surgeon in Washington, DC, could perform an operation...… Continue Reading
FCC’s EEO Policies Subject of Re-examination and Update
The FCC’s policies with regard to diversity generally have taken center stage over the past few days. First up, on Friday, April 21, the Commission released a Declaratory Ruling which updated its policy as to whether the use by broadcasters and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPD’s) of only Internet-based recruitment sources provides sufficiently wide dissemination...… Continue Reading
The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same – UHF Discount Restored
The Commission has acted to restore the UHF discount used to calculate audience reach in connection with determining compliance with television ownership limits. The national ownership cap currently limits the number of stations one owner may control to those which reach no more than 39 percent of national television households (with reach defined as the...… Continue Reading
The FCC Announces Two Rules of Interest to NCE Stations
On April 20, 2017, the FCC announced two new developments for NCE stations. First, the FCC stated that it will no longer require the officers and board members of NCE stations to obtain FCC registration numbers (“FRNs”), a process which requires individuals to disclose personal information such as social security numbers. NCE station officers and board...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast, Telecom Filing Deadlines
Do you know what FCC filing deadlines are coming up in early May through early June? We do. Note our list is not comprehensive, and other proceedings may apply to you. Please do not hesitate to contact FHH if you have any questions. May 1, 2017 – Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet – All telecommunications carriers,...… Continue Reading
What Happens in Vegas in April…We’ll Tell You About in May
Regular readers of our “Memorandum to Clients” publication are an astute and well-read bunch (probably because they read the “MTC”). So we’re guessing that you are generally aware of our usual publication schedule and plan your lives accordingly. That’s why we want to get ahead of any potential concern this month by telling you that...… Continue Reading
The FCC is Now Granting Program Experimental Licenses (Finally!)
The FCC has always been kind to people who tinker with radio equipment, whether teenagers blowing out their parents’ fuses (that was us) or manufacturers’ research labs (maybe you). Licenses in the Experimental Radio Service allow work with radio transmitters that don’t otherwise meet FCC standards. The problem with these experimental licenses was that most...… Continue Reading
FCC Brings Spectrum Auction to a Close, Sets Repack Transition in Motion
With the release of the Incentive Auction Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice (affectionately known as the “CCR”), the FCC officially draws the spectrum Incentive Auction to a close. The CCR is a must-read for TV broadcasters and wireless carriers alike. It announces broadcast and wireless winning bidders, sets deadlines and timetables for filings, and...… Continue Reading
FCC Releases Instructions on Receiving Incentive and Reimbursement Payments after the Incentive Auction Closes
On March 29, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice providing instructions to full power and Class A television broadcasters and Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs) on receiving incentive and/or reimbursement payments following the closure of the Incentive Auction. The Public Notice stated that, in order to receive payments, winning bidders in the reverse auction … Continue Reading
Pre-1972 Fight with a Twist: Georgia Supreme Court Exempts Internet Streaming from State Record Piracy Statute
(Court also compares Internet Radio to Terrestrial Under State Law) A Georgia Supreme Court decision on a narrow issue relating to the use of pre-1972 sound recordings creates an interesting new topic for discussion in this area, even as the holding in this case is itself necessarily limited to Georgia. The case is iHeartMedia v.Sheridan, … Continue Reading
FCC Modernizes 800 MHz Rules
On March 23, 2017, the FCC enacted an Order to modernize its rules and regulations governing the 800 MHz Cellular Service band in order to encompass modern wideband mobile broadband service technologies such as LTE. The FCC stated that the movement away from the outdated command-and-control regulatory paradigm, originally created for commercial mobile services using … Continue Reading
FCC Joins Industry to Eliminate Illegal Robocalls; Releases NPRM to Remove Regulatory Roadblocks
Your phone rings. You look down at your phone, which reads “IRS.” You answer. “Hello?” There’s a pause. Then, in an automated tone, you hear this: “This call is to inform you that the IRS is filing a lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately on our department … Continue Reading
Tomorrow’s Broadcast Leaders: Their Future’s So Bright, They Wear Shades
FHH Profs Montero and Kirkpatrick show up-and-comers the ropes. Another class of the brightest and the best is working its way through the Broadcast Leadership Training Program, and FHH is there to help. The BLT is a 10-month Executive MBA-style program created by the National Association of Broadcasters Education Fund (NABEF) to provide rising executives the … Continue Reading
FilmOn X Loses in Latest Bid to be a Cable System
Ninth Circuit is the latest to say that Internet-based services are not cable systems. Remember Aereo? Sure you do, if you were a regular CommLawBlog reader pretty much anytime between 2012 and 2015. Aereo was the upstart looking to revolutionize the way cord-cutters watched TV: its dime-sized antennas were designed to receive and capture local … Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast, Telecom Filing Deadlines
Do you know what upcoming FCC filing deadlines early April through early May apply to you? We do. Note our list is not comprehensive. Other proceedings may apply to you. Please do not hesitate to contact FHH if you have any questions. April 1, 2017 – EEO Public File Reports – All radio and television stations with … Continue Reading
FCC to Expand Channel Sharing Options for Post-Auction Repack
To spur participation in its incentive auction, the FCC early on adopted rules allowing full-power and Class A television licensees to share a single TV channel. That gave them an option to sell their spectrum to the Commission while also staying on the air. In 2015, the Commission expanded channel-sharing to low-power Television licensees and … Continue Reading
Drones for Tower Inspections? Lookout for FAA Regulations
FAA Waivers May Be Required Last summer, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued its first regulations allowing commercial flights of small unmanned aircraft (sUAS, colloquially known as drones). As we reported, those rules place a number of restrictions on flying drones for commercial use, although the agency provided the opportunity to obtain waivers of some … Continue Reading
Effective Date Announced for Relaxed FM Translator Siting Rules
The last “T” has been crossed and the last “I” dotted in the FCC’s proceeding to adopt new rules relaxing siting requirements for FM translators seeking to rebroadcast AM stations. In a Federal Register notice, the FCC announced that the Office of Management and Budget has approved the information collection requirements associated with the Commission’s … Continue Reading
AM Owners: Don’t Jump the Gun on FM Translator Applications
The FCC’s Media Bureau is not processing FM translator applications for AM owners until its new rule takes effect. At its public meeting last week, the agency adopted an order to relax restrictions on siting FM translators to be used as fill-ins for gaps in AM coverage. However that change has not yet become effective. … Continue Reading
FCC Drops 40-Mile FM Translator Siting Cap for AMs
As anticipated, the FCC adopted at its February 23 meeting a rule change to ease FM translator siting restrictions for AM owners. (The FCC signaled previously that such a change was forthcoming by releasing a draft decision three weeks before the meeting at which the item was voted upon. That release was part of an … Continue Reading
ATSC 3.0 NPRM Adopted
The FCC has adopted its anticipated Notice of Proposed Rule Making looking toward allowing television broadcasters to transition from the present ATSC 1.0 technical standard to the new, recently developed ATSC 3.0 standard. ATSC 3.0 is Internet Protocol (IP) based and offers many potential benefits, including both multiple broadcast streams and non-broadcast IP services; but it … Continue Reading
Wi-Fi Holds its Breath as FCC OKs LTE-U
Wi-Fi is one of the great technological successes of our age. It gives fast, reliable data transmission by anyone for any purpose. No FCC license is needed. No single provider controls the technology. The equipment is inexpensive and available in a large, competitive marketplace. It almost always works. Was it too good to last? We … Continue Reading
Mobile Now Legislation, Moving Along
High-stakes spectrum lobbying gears up Last year, we reported on the proposed Mobile Now Act, the darling of U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.) and Bill Nelson (D-FL), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce Committee, respectively. The bill aims to encourage broadband deployment. At that time, we noted that the Act had a … Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast, Telecom Filing Deadlines
Do you know what upcoming FCC filing deadlines now and through early April apply to you? We do. Note our list is not comprehensive. Other proceedings may apply to you. Please do not hesitate to contact FHH if you have any questions. March 1, 2017 – Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Report – Facilities-based providers of broadband … Continue Reading
Second Circuit Gives Belated Valentine’s Day Gift to Music Licensees by Ruling for Sirius XM Regarding Its Use of Pre-72 Sound Recordings
We previously told you about the Christmas gift that New York’s highest state court had given to licensees that play “oldies” recordings by finding that the owners of those recordings had no right to demand payment when the recordings were publicly performed in New York. That ruling came in one of many lawsuits that Flo … Continue Reading
Incentive Auction: Carrier Bidding Gets Specific
FHH has been following the FCC’s broadcast incentive auction, see the latest stories here and here. Now the auction moves to the next stage — where wireless participants will bid on specific spectrum blocks. This next step, which the Commission calls “assignment phase bidding” begins on March 6th. The 600 MHz band plan is designed … Continue Reading
Better Legal Protection for Emails?—My Fault That It’s Needed
A bill moving through Congress would require a warrant to access the contents of an email, even an email more than six months old. Wait—what? You read that right. Today’s law says the police need a warrant to read your newer emails. But as soon as one has been on the server for 180 days, … Continue Reading
.RADIO Domain Names Available Soon, But Many Unanswered Questions about Availability
After many years of preparation, the roll-out of .RADIO domain names will finally be underway shortly. The news has potential for broadcasters worldwide (for example, you could have Nashvillehits.radio as your URL.) Yet there are many unanswered questions about how .RADIO domain names will be allocated and what happens when multiple parties want the same … Continue Reading
Renewed Push for FM Class C4
What may happen to the petition to create an FM Class C4 designation under FCC Chairman Pai’s leadership? Readers may recall SSR Communications CEO Matthew Wesolowski and the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council petitioned the FCC in 2013 to add a new FM class in between Class A and Class C3. The proposed class would … Continue Reading
Incentive Auction Update: Quiet Period Partially Lifted, Channel Reassignments Coming, M&A Gold Rush Begins
After teasing that such relief was coming, the FCC has confirmed a partial waiver of the limitations on communications for reverse auction participants. In other words, broadcasters who participated in the auction, regardless of whether they were successful bidders or will remain on the air, are now free to communicate with all parties about their … Continue Reading
Pai Starts Rolling Back Wheeler Media, Telecom Items
Under new Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC has begun rescinding decisions made in the waning days of Tom Wheeler’s Chairmanship (and one older decision). The flurry of action involving bureau decisions being reversed or rescinded includes zero ratings probes, Lifeline Broadband Provider designations, guidelines for the processing of broadcasters’ joint sales and shared services agreements, … Continue Reading
FCC Releases Draft Seeking Comment on ATSC 3.0 Next-Gen TV Standard
New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing rules that would authorize television broadcasters to use the Next Gen TV transmission standard on a voluntary basis. Chairman Pai released the NPRM to the public prior to its presumed adoption at the upcoming FCC open meeting as part of his … Continue Reading
FCC Intends to Drop 40-Mile FM Translator Siting Cap for AMs
The FCC has sent a strong signal that at its February 23 open meeting it will adopt a proposal to ease FM translator siting restrictions for AM owners. As part of an experiment to increase transparency in the agency’s rulemaking process, new Chairman Ajit Pai, long a fan of radio, publicly released a draft decision … Continue Reading
Under New Leadership, FCC Media Bureau Reverses January Decision on Reconsideration of NCE Ownership Reporting Requirements
Back in early January, the FCC’s Media Bureau released an Order denying a number of Petitions for Reconsideration of an earlier Bureau Order that had adopted new requirements regarding FCC Registration Numbers (“FRNS”) and “Restricted Use FRNs” (“RUFRNS”) used in broadcasters’ biennial ownership reports. The Petitions had objected to application of certain new FRN and … Continue Reading
Laura Stefani Is Now a Member of FHH
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth is pleased to announce that Laura Stefani has become a member of FHH. She came to the firm in 2014 with as Of Counsel. Her promotion became effective as of January 1, 2017. Her primary professional focus has been emerging technologies and spectrum use. She has considerable experience with unlicensed wireless … Continue Reading
Pai’s FCC Sends Paper Correspondence File Rules Packing
Commercial broadcasters soon will not need to keep paper copies of viewer and listener correspondence about station operations in their public inspection files. The FCC voted 3-0 on Tuesday to eliminate the requirements at its first public meeting under new Chairman Ajit Pai. The Order also resolves a security issue for stations because they will … Continue Reading
Media Bureau Adopts Post-Auction Policies and Procedures for Stations Transitioning to New Channels Following the Broadcast Incentive Auction
On January 27, 2017, the FCC’s Media Bureau released two Public Notices announcing: (1) a methodology for establishing construction deadlines for post-incentive auction facilities; and (2) instructions and proposed deadlines for filing applications related to the post-incentive auction broadcast transition. Although these public notices provided transitioning stations with some much-needed clarity regarding the post-auction process, … Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast, Telecom Filing Deadlines
Do you know what upcoming FCC filing deadlines now and through February apply to you? We do. Note our list is not comprehensive. Other proceedings may apply to you. Please do not hesitate to contact FHH if you have any questions. EEO Recruitment – Comments are due by January 30 on a petition concerning EEO recruitment practices. … Continue Reading
It’s Not “Super” When You’re Sued
(Our Annual Reminder to be careful how you use “Super Bowl”® and other NFL trademarks) If I had my way, I’d probably never write on this topic again. Every year I rack my brain for a hook to help re-remind readers about the dangers of using the term “Super Bowl”® – and any “Super Bowl”®-related … Continue Reading
Webcaster Wake Up Call!
SoundExchange reports, payments due soon On February 2nd the groundhog best known as “Punxsutawney Phil” will be plucked from the comfort of his underground lair and ceremoniously asked to “predict” the end of winter. Of course, this tradition was memorably portrayed in the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” in which Bill Murray’s Phil Connors relives a … Continue Reading
Final Latch Secured On LPTV Freezer
The FCC has announced that effective immediately, it will no longer accept applications for construction permits for new digital companion channels filed by analog Low Power Television stations. While this article refers to only LPTV stations, TV translators are subject to all the same rules and to the new freeze. This freeze removes the only … Continue Reading
More FCC Satellite Earth Stations Up for Renewal in 2017
We take this opportunity to remind earth station licensees and registrants that the FCC’s International Bureau does not issue notifications of license expiration dates, or reminders to file renewal applications. We expect to see more licenses up for renewal this year as compared to the last few years. So please take a moment to review … Continue Reading
FCC, Straight Path Execute $100 Million Settlement of Wireless Probe
Decision has 5G implications Wow—FCC enforcement actions don’t get any juicier than this: an anonymous whistleblower, alleged misrepresentations to the FCC, and a complex $100 million fine to Straight Path Communications, Inc. for apparently misrepresenting that it had constructed 28 and 39 GHz licenses on applications to renew those licenses! All this is revealed in a … Continue Reading
FCC Fines Straight Path $100M to Settle Wireless License Probe
Wow—FCC enforcement actions don’t get any juicier than this: an anonymous whistleblower, alleged misrepresentations to the FCC, and a complex $100 million fine to Straight Path Communications, Inc. for apparently misrepresenting that it had constructed 28 and 39 GHz licenses on applications to renew those licenses! All this is revealed in a Consent Decree between Straight Path and … Continue Reading
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