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Updated 2017-08-19 01:35
Reminder: FREE Must-Carry/Retransmission Consent Webinar Tuesday, August 22
This is a reminder that on Tuesday, August 22 from 2:00-3:15 p.m. (EDT), FHH carriage gurus Dan Kirkpatrick and Paul Feldman will present a FREE webinar entitled “Must-Carry and Retransmission Consent 2017.” Free registration for the webinar is available here. The industry faces an October 1, 2017 deadline requiring all full-power television stations to make...… Continue Reading
ETRS Form 1 Due August 28 for all EAS Participants; Requires Registration in FCC CORES System
The Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FCC have announced that a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) will take place on September 27, 2017, at 2:20 PM EDT. As a precursor to this test, all EAS Participants (which includes most broadcast stations and cable and DBS operators) must file a “Form 1”...… Continue Reading
Commercial Radio Stations Offered Opportunity to Extend Interim License with GMR
No sooner did we report an update on the dispute between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) and Global Music Rights (GMR), do we have another update to share. Only this time, the update: (1) is less wonky/more practical, (2) is good news for commercial radio stations, and (3) requires action by affected stations. Radio...… Continue Reading
RMLC Seeks PI; Attempts to Stay in PA, Avoid CA
(As end of GMR Interim License Period Approaches, fight over GMR’s refusal to deal with Pennsylvania radio stations has implications for others around the country) We’ve written (and talked) plenty about the fight between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) – which represents the interests of the commercial radio industry in negotiating licenses with performing...… Continue Reading
How to Find Renewal – For Wireless Licenses
The FCC has rewritten the rules on renewing wireless radio licenses. Unlike renewing, say, a car registration, these require more than an application form and a check. The FCC also wants assurance that you have been using the license. Because if you haven’t, they want to let it expire and make room for somebody else....… Continue Reading
FCC Seeks Comment on Mid-Band Spectrum Opportunities
Being in “the middle” has historically gotten a bad rap. There’s the underappreciated “middle child,” and of course no one wants to be the unneeded “middle man.” This concept has even proven true with the Commission’s wireless spectrum policies. While the FCC has made it a priority to promote industry access to wireless spectrum, these...… Continue Reading
Independent Decisionmakers Reduce SESAC’s Commercial Radio License Rate by Tens of Millions of Dollars
(Stations will pay 60% less than old SESAC rate card) While the fight between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) and Global Music Rights (GMR) has captured music licensing headlines in 2016 and 2017 (including here at Commlawblog), it has previously been RMLC v. SESAC which stole the show. (Recall that until GMR came on...… Continue Reading
Save the Date for Our FREE Must-Carry/Retransmission Consent Webinar
Tuesday, August 22, 2017 – 2:00-3:15 p.m. (EDT) For all full power TV stations, October 1, 2017 is a critical deadline for electing between must-carry and retransmission consent for the next three years. What should you consider before electing must-carry or retransmission consent? What has changed in the three years since elections were last made?...… Continue Reading
Last Nail in the PTFP Coffin?
(NTIA Proposes Formal End to Public Telecom Facilities Program) The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to repeal all of its regulations establishing and governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP). The PTFP was a competitive grant program that helped public broadcasting entities, state and local...… Continue Reading
Leggo Our Spectrum – The Auto Industry’s Win for Vehicular Radar
FCC Order Represents One More Step Towards Fully-Autonomous Vehicles I’ve written on connected and autonomous vehicles in the past, including about an ongoing spectrum fight at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding use of spectrum set aside years ago for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (specifically, for a technology called DSRC). The FCC now has revised...… Continue Reading
FCC Tweaks Mic Rules, Microsoft Launches Spectrum Fight
In late 2015, major wireless microphone manufacturers requested that the FCC “reconsider” various mostly-technical rules that it had adopted as part of a wide-ranging strategy to reallocate spectrum for wireless microphones. (We’ve written about recent regulatory changes for wireless mics here, here and here.) The Commission now has responded via an Order aimed at fine-tuning...… Continue Reading
The FCC Re-Tweaks the Equipment Authorization Rules
Some FCC regulations are carved in stone, changing about as often as the rules of chess. But not the equipment authorization rules, which lay out the procedures manufacturers and importers must follow to market devices having potential to cause interference to radio communications. The FCC likes to revise and update these every few years. This...… Continue Reading
Winter is Coming . . . Freeze on certain FM Translator/FM Booster and LPFM Applications starts July 19th
In case you missed this detail in Matt McCormick’s recent article about the upcoming FM translator application filing window for AM Class C and D station owners, Wednesday (July 19) is the start of a temporary freeze on acceptance of applications for minor modifications of existing FM translators and LPFMs, and for FM booster construction...… Continue Reading
FCC Releases Instructions for Registering for the 2017 EAS Test Reporting System
(New procedures require all filers to register in the FCC’s updated CORES system) On June 26, 2017, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) of the Federal Communications Commission released instructions as to how Emergency Alert System (EAS) Participants must register for access to the 2017 EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS). The PSHSB also...… Continue Reading
Sinclair-Tribune Merger Open for Comments
As has been widely reported, Sinclair Broadcast Group reached a $3.9 Billion cash and stock agreement in May with Tribune Media Company. The agreement calls for Sinclair to acquire Tribune Media and its 42 broadcast television stations, among other media assets. Just before the July 4 holiday, the companies filed a series of transfer of...… Continue Reading
See you later, local correspondence file!
As Egon said in Ghosbusters, “print is dead.” Okay, that may be a bit of an overstatement. But at least as to many broadcast stations’ local public inspection files, it is essentially true as of today. Back in January, the FCC voted to do away with the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain in their...… Continue Reading
Slants Supreme Court Case Slays Ban on Registration of Disparaging Trademarks
I am officially a big fan of The Slants. I’ve never seen them in concert. I don’t own any of their albums (I’ve never even downloaded any of their individual songs). I’m actually still not entirely sure what “Chinatown Dance Rock” really is. But I will forever be indebted to Simon Shiao Tam and crew. ...… Continue Reading
Countdown Clock Ticking on Digital Millennium Copyright Act Designated Agent Registrations
(Registered agent contact information must be ELECTRONICALLY filed with the Copyright Office by December 31, 2017) How much is peace of mind worth to you? Does $6.00 and less than an hour of your time sound about right? What if I told you that this alone would significantly reduce the likelihood that you will be...… Continue Reading
One-Week FM Translator Filing Window for Class C and D AM Stations Opens July 26
The long-awaited filing window for certain Class C and D AM stations to apply for new FM translators will open at 12:01 a.m. EDT on July 26, 2017, and will close at 5:59 p.m. EDT (not at 11:59 p.m.) on August 2, 2017. A second window for eligible Class A and B AM stations (and...… Continue Reading
Major Changes Sought in Nascent Citizens Broadband Radio Service
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) has not even been born yet, but already major industry players want to change its basic character. CBRS, as its name implies, was conceived and approved by the FCC a couple of years ago as a broadband service for locally-focused businesses. The regulatory paradigm included both a large swathe...… Continue Reading
NTIA Seeks Comments on Cybersecurity Threats
We’ve previously reported on a drone-related multistakeholder process convened by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is part of the Department of Commerce and is responsible for telecommunications and technology policy. For several years, NTIA has considered important policy issues related to emerging technologies through these “multistakeholder processes,” which bring together industry, public...… Continue Reading
UPDATE: FCC Announces Deadline for Comments on Proposed Elimination of the Main Studio Rule
In a previous entry, we discussed the Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to eliminate the main studio rule, which requires radio and television broadcasters to maintain a main studio located at or near a station’s community of license. The NPRM was published in the Federal Register on June 2, 2017, which means...… Continue Reading
FCC Imposes $55,000 Fine for Inappropriate Use of EAS Tones
Continuing its historical hard line on misuse of EAS tones, the FCC announced on May 30 that it had settled an investigation with WTLV, a TEGNA-owned television station in Jacksonville, Florida regarding unauthorized EAS tones appearing in an ad for the Jacksonville Jaguars (the local NFL team). As part of the settlement, TEGNA entered into...… Continue Reading
FCC Looks to Modernize Media Regulations
Last month, the FCC launched a new proceeding with an extremely broad goal of modernizing its media regulations. The very brief (less than three page) Public Notice launching the proceeding, which Chairman Pai previewed in his speech at the NAB Show in Las Vegas, asks for comment on almost any media regulation considered “outdated, unnecessary,...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes 2017 Regulatory Fees
Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, the FCC has issued its 2017 Regulatory Fee Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), beginning a process that culminates with the payment of regulatory fees sometime between late August and the end of September. Although there aren’t any big fee hikes like we saw last year,...… Continue Reading
Small Break for Hobbyist Drone Operators: D.C. Circuit Tosses Aircraft Registration Rule
FAA Violated Clear Language of the Law The United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week, in Taylor v. Huerta, determined that the FAA’s registration rule cannot apply to small unmanned aircraft (aka, sUAVs, or drones) operated for recreational purposes. Drones operated for recreational purposes, which FAA terms “model aircraft”, are defined...… Continue Reading
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
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