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Updated 2017-03-29 05:12
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
FCC About to Sweep Away Last Paper Public File Remnants
The FCC plans to vote on the last vestiges of the paper public file at its January open meeting on the 31st — a Report and Order resolving a May 2016 proposal to eliminate the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain copies of letters and emails from the public concerning their station operation in their … Continue Reading
Keeping Tabs on the Post-Auction TV Transition Progress
FCC Releases Proposed Progress Report Form and Seeks to Require Non-Reimbursable Stations to Comply As the end of the Incentive Auction (hopefully) nears, the FCC has released additional information about the requirements and mechanisms for post-auction transition progress reporting by reimbursement-eligible stations, and has put out for comment a proposal to require similar reporting from … Continue Reading
The Winds of Change Blowing Through FCC
Lately, there has been a lot of news about all the political jockeying at the FCC over who will stay and who will go, plus who must leave and who will be appointed. Will he or she be a Republican or Democrat? Will the Democrats stay? Wait….what? Democrats stay? Didn’t Trump win the election? How can … Continue Reading
Frank Montero Dishes on New FCC
FHH’s own managing member, Frank Montero was featured in a front page profile interview for Radio World Magazine where he discusses his views on the Trump Administration’s impact on the new FCC and the potential effect on broadcasters. Here is the interview: … Continue Reading
Public File Political Requirements Clarified as Wheeler Administration Sunsets
On Friday, January 7, after the sun had set and the FCC’s doors were locked for the night, the agency released two decisions addressing complaints that a dozen TV stations did not provide sufficiently complete information about political advertising in their public inspection files during the 2016 Presidential campaign. That sounds kind of like a … Continue Reading
FCC Needs Updated TV Contact Info. For Channel Reassignments
The FCC’s Media Bureau and the Incentive Auction Task Force are (again!) reminding all television owners (including those participating in the broadcast incentive auction and those who may potentially be subject to repacking) to provide updated contact information for every station in your portfolio. Important information can reach those owners more quickly with a street … Continue Reading
FCC’s Media Bureau Reaffirms NCE Ownership Reporting Requirements, Angers GOP Commissioners
The (seemingly never-ending) saga of the FCC’s attempts to revise its biennial ownership reporting requirements for broadcasters has taken an interesting, and somewhat unexpected turn. As we have previously reported, the Media Bureau early last year adopted new requirements related to the FCC Registration Numbers (FRNs) and “Restricted Use FRNs” (RUFRNs) that interest holders would … Continue Reading
Do Excessive Rights-of-Way Costs Get in The Way of 5G?
The FCC is asking for public input on streamlining its rules governing deployment of small cell infrastructure to support 5G services by improving the agency’s wireless facilities siting policies. The effort by the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau stems in part from a petition for Declaratory Ruling filed by Mobilitie, LLC titled: “Promoting Broadband for All Americans … Continue Reading
Why FCC’s Media Bureau Approval of Increased Foreign Investment in Univision Should Interest You
In a decision of interest to other broadcast owners, the FCC cleared the way on Tuesday for Televisa, a Mexican media conglomerate, to own a larger stake of U.S. Spanish-language broadcaster Univision (the Declaratory Ruling may be read here). The two companies jointly filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling requesting that the agency permit foreign … Continue Reading
Company Fined $60k for Not Seeking Prior OK to Transfer Licenses
Continued use of expired licenses leads to enforcement action The FCC recently released an Order and Consent Decree that, with a $60,000 fine, acts as a bold reminder to manufacturers, utilities, and other companies that they must seek prior Commission approval to transfer FCC dispatch/internal communications licenses when the licensee company is purchased by or … Continue Reading
FCC Creates Some Clarity Regarding USF Contribution Obligations for Audio Conferencing
Recently, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) overruled a Universal Administrative Company’s (USAC) decision that required Cisco to pay into the Universal Service Fund (USF) based on revenue realized from the audio component of its WebEx service. The WCB’s decision seems to shed some light on the factors used in determining whether service providers are … Continue Reading
FCC Names Spectrum Access Administrators
Seven companies will simultaneously control multiple users across three priority levels in the Citizens Broadband Radio Service. The FCC hopes to launch new spectrum management techniques with the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), in which large numbers of users will share the spectrum with each other and with incumbents through a three-tiered access model. Each … Continue Reading
Radio Music License Committee and Global Music Rights Reach Interim License Agreement
(Stations Fearing a Difficult Choice Before January 1 now have until January 31 to opt in to an interim license agreement and continue playing GMR songs through September.) If you are a radio station, especially a commercial radio station primarily playing music, you are probably aware of the dueling lawsuits filed by the Radio Music … Continue Reading
The FCC’s Foray Into 5G, IoT Device Cybersecurity
Public Safety Bureau asks wide-ranging questions in NOI The Commission’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has put out a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking information about the security of communications in 5G networks and devices. The Bureau raises these questions especially in light of the expected Internet-of-Things-related proliferation of wireless devices that have the … Continue Reading
FCC Gives NCEs Reprieve on Filing Biennial Ownership Reports
Non-commercial educational (NCE) television and radio stations received an early Christmas present from the Commission. The agency suspended biennial ownership filing requirements for those that who would otherwise be required to file such reports on Form 323-E. That means NCE licensees and other entities with attributable interests in such stations are not required to biennially … Continue Reading
Merry Christmas to the Licensee Community from New York! Appeals Court Holds No New York Performance Right in Sound Recordings
In what comes as an early Christmas gift for those who play “oldies” music – think Sirius XM Radio, radio broadcasters, and webcasters – and coal in the stockings of the owners of those recordings, New York’s highest state court ruled today that New York does not recognize a public performance right in sound recordings. … Continue Reading
Expecting Money From The FCC Post-Incentive Auction?
If you’re the owner of a full-power or Class A broadcast television station or are a multichannel video program distributor, and anticipate receiving a winning bid or seeking reimbursement funds from the Commission post-incentive auction, how will you get your money? The FCC has created an online tutorial to explain how this will work. To … Continue Reading
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