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Updated 2019-02-15 18:25
Now in Effect: FCC Eliminates Requirement to Post Licenses
As we reported back in December, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) issued a Report and Order that would eliminate the need to post and maintain broadcast licenses at a physical location. The Commission’s stated goal is to modernize U.S. “media rules and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens that impede competition and innovation in the media marketplace.”...… Continue Reading
A Word of Caution to Broadcasters Pertaining to E-Cigarette and Vaping Advertisements
Last month I participated in a webinar with my colleague Dan Kirkpatrick where we addressed the issue of advertising controversial products. While the topic of marijuana advertising (which we discussed in our webinar) gets much attention these days–especially with the recent decision by CBS to turn down a cannabis ad for the Super Bowl–we also...… Continue Reading
Jeffrey Mitchell Joins Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C.
Washington-area based telecommunications, media, and technology law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. is pleased to announce that Jeffrey A. Mitchell has joined the firm as Of Counsel. Jeffrey brings with him more than two decades of Telecommunications experience both in private practice and in multiple roles for the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC). The...… Continue Reading
FCC Further Extends Certain Deadlines
As we reported, immediately after reopening from the Federal government shutdown, the FCC extended most filing deadlines that would have fallen during the shutdown to January 30, 2019. Upon review, the FCC has now further extended many of those deadlines. In a Public Notice released on January 30, the Commission’s Bureaus and Offices collectively retained the...… Continue Reading
FCC Extends Filing Deadlines
As we reported early in the government shutdown, the FCC proactively extended most filing deadlines until one business day after the first day the FCC was re-opened post-shutdown. Now that the government (including the FCC) has reopened, the Commission has further extended that deadline by one additional day. As a result, most filings that would have been...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for February-April
You’ll find below the list of deadlines* facing broadcasters and telecommunications providers during the upcoming months of February, March, and April. If you noted the asterisk, it’s because the government shutdown may affect many of these deadlines, either because the relevant online filing system or the required information is not accessible. If that is the...… Continue Reading
Webcaster Wake Up Call: The (Not Entirely) Shutdown Update
This is the promised follow up to our December 14, 2018 post regarding the compliance obligations for 2019 under the statutory licenses found in Sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (the “statutory licenses”) allowing webcasters to make public performances sound recordings via digital audio transmission and to make related temporary copies of those...… Continue Reading
Remember to Exercise Super Judgment When Discussing the Big Game
The matchup for the National Football League’s championship game, aka the “Super Bowl”, is set. The Los Angeles Rams will face the New England Patriots on Sunday, February 3 in Atlanta in a game that will be hard pressed to exceed either conference championship game in terms of excitement or controversy. Each of the NFC Championship,...… Continue Reading
FCC Shutdown Becomes a Little Less Shut Down
One downside of a government shutdown—or the present partial shutdown that includes the FCC—is the inability of technology companies to obtain the FCC certifications they need to market certain kinds of new products. Good news: the FCC has reopened a website that makes it possible for most (not all) new devices to obtain their certifications....… Continue Reading
Now Available: Controversial Advertising and Sponsorship Identification Webinar
In collaboration with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Frank Montero and Dan Kirkpatrick presented a webinar covering guidelines for broadcasters on how to handle controversial advertising and proper sponsorship identification. Frank and Dan discussed many aspects of Federal and state regulation pertaining to advertising on potentially problematic subjects, including marijuana, tobacco, alcohol, and...… Continue Reading
Possible Ramifications for TCPA After FCC Reclassification of Text Messages
On December 12, the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or “Commission”) three Republican Commissioners were in a self-congratulatory mood for standing with consumers against unwanted robotexts by classifying text messaging as a Title I service, but did the Commission’s classification decision really mark a major TCPA victory for consumers? Probably not. As Sekoia Rogers detailed on...… Continue Reading
FCC Classifies Texting as an Information Service
On December 12, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) adopted a Declaratory Ruling that finds Short Messaging Service (SMS) and Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS) are “information services” under the Communications Act and that these services are not “telecommunications services” or “commercial mobile services”. As a result, SMS/MMS won’t be subjected to the regulatory...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes Elimination of EEO Mid-Term Report for Broadcasters
On January 3, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) released a proposed Report and Order which would eliminate the requirement that certain broadcast television and radio stations file a Broadcast Mid-Term EEO Report (Form 397). The Commission released the proposed Report and Order for adoption at its public meeting scheduled for January...… Continue Reading
Shutdown Uncertainty: What Broadcasters Should Do Now
Wondering how the federal government shutdown affects your broadcast station’s regulatory compliance obligations? Because some of the FCC’s online systems are up and running while others are not, it can be confusing as to what is still required of broadcasters. We have sorted through the confusion to help you understand what should still be prepared...… Continue Reading
The FCC Sets the Wheels in Motion to Clear More Spectrum for 5G
At its December open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) took a significant step toward facilitating the deployment of fifth-generation (5G) wireless advanced services. For those still wondering what exactly 5G is, we have written about the highly touted mobile broadband technology several times, including here and here. The FCC has already cleared...… Continue Reading
FCC Commences Review of Media Ownership Rules
On December 12, 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) commencing the 2018 Quadrennial Review of the Commission’s media ownership rules. The FCC is required under Section 202(h) of the Communications Act to review most of its broadcast ownership rules every four years to determine whether...… Continue Reading
FCC Adopts TCPA Changes that Include (Very Limited) Safe Harbor
On December 12, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) adopted an order that creates a reassigned number database to help callers avoid Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) violations that can occur when telephone numbers get reassigned to new users. We covered some of the details in a previous CommLawBlog post when the FCC pre-released...… Continue Reading
FCC Eliminates Posting of Broadcast Licenses
Two years into Ajit Pai’s chairmanship, a central theme at the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) is deregulation. Sometimes framed in terms of “modernizing media rules,” the topic is at the forefront of just about every proceeding. This was true for one of the most recent decisions at the Commission, as a Report and...… Continue Reading
Webcaster Wake Up Call!
We usually publish our “Webcaster Wake Up Call!” post each January. This post reminds webcasting services of their compliance obligations for the upcoming year under the statutory licenses found in Sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (the “statutory licenses”) allowing them to publicly perform sound recordings via digital audio transmission. Part of the...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for December/January/February
December (the most wonderful time of the year) often carries with it a sense of retrospection. We start looking back on the year that was, compiling “Best of” lists, tying up loose ends, getting those last donations and expenses in under the wire. Of course, there’s also plenty of forward-looking at what the new year...… Continue Reading
Legitimate Robocallers Rejoice: TCPA Compliance is About to Get (Slightly) Easier
Believe it or not, there are companies that make legitimate “robocalls,” and those companies strive to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If you’ve received an appointment reminder from your doctor or dentist, a package delivery notification, or a school closure notification lately those messages were likely delivered to your phone using an...… Continue Reading
Now Available: 2018 FCC EEO Rules Webinar
With FCC license renewals fast-approaching and public inspection files now all on line, it is time to seriously review and assess your FCC EEO compliance (….that is before the FCC does it for you!). In collaboration with the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Dawn King, Anne Crump,...… Continue Reading
FCC to Radio Licensees: We’re Watching You (or at Least Your Public Files)
With the whirl of the holiday season upon us, most broadcasters rightly thought they could put off looking ahead to the next license renewal cycle until 2019. Au contraire, says the FCC, which began sending out blast emails to certain radio licensees on December 6, warning that FCC internal audits have revealed that many stations’...… Continue Reading
Bipartisan TRACED Act Seeks to Reduce Robocalls
Before Thanksgiving, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation aimed at decreasing the number of unwanted robocalls. The TRACED Act would expand FCC authority under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), empower the FCC to mandate call authentication rules for voice service providers to cut down on caller ID spoofing, and create an interagency working...… Continue Reading
Please Welcome Seth Williams!
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth is pleased to announce a new member of our team! Seth Williams joined us as an associate on November 15 after spending several years in private practice at another D.C.-area law firm. While still in school, Seth also gained experience in several areas of communications law, working as an intern at...… Continue Reading
FCC Streamlines Hearing Aid Compatibility Reporting Requirements for Service Providers
On November 16, 2018, the FCC released a Report and Order amending the hearing aid compatibility (“HAC”) reporting requirements for wireless service providers. In short, the order changes the emphasis for disseminating HAC information to consumers from FCC reports to service provider websites, requiring service providers to post additional information on their websites about the...… Continue Reading
Deadline Announced for AM Revitalization Comments
Attention all you AM radio nostalgia buffs and others interested in the future of AM radio, who hopefully read our post of October 10 about the FCC’s proposals to allow higher power operation by smaller AM stations by reducing nighttime signal protection for 50 kW Class A AM stations. The FCC’s proposals have been published...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for November/December
Let’s play some word association. If we say “Deadlines”, you might answer “Scary.” Hence, the reason we’re publishing our November and December FCC deadlines post on Halloween. Only, unlike the ghouls and goblins you may see on the streets tonight, these are real! Please note that the list is NOT exclusive, so there may be others....… Continue Reading
Mark Your Calendar for the 29th Annual FCBA Charity Auction
The fall chill in the air must mean one thing – and no, it’s not just pumpkin spice lattes! It’s time to go out for a night of bidding, imbibing, and banter all for a good cause. Pull up your calendars and mark Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 for the 29th Annual FCBA Charity Auction hosted...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes LPTV and FM Repack Reimbursement Schedule
The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has invited comments on a “catalog” of categories and amounts it thinks are reasonable for reimbursement of expenses incurred by low power TV (“LPTV”) stations as a result of involuntary channel changes imposed by the post-incentive auction repacking of the TV spectrum. Congress initially appropriated funds to reimburse costs incurred...… Continue Reading
C Band Receive Only Earth Stations Application Filing Window Extended
The FCC has extended the filing deadline for the C band receive only earth stations applications to October 31, 2018. In a Public Notice, the FCC decided to extend the filing deadline (which was October 17, 2018) due to difficulties experienced with the International Bureau Filing System (IBFS) which prevented some applicants from filing for license...… Continue Reading
What’s Next for AM Radio?
Late on Friday, October 5, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in a five-year ongoing effort to “revitalize” the AM radio broadcast service. The new proposals continue a trend toward allowing higher power operation by smaller stations, by reducing nighttime signal protection for some 60 Class A AM...… Continue Reading
FCC Streamlines Rules for Earth Stations in Motion and Seeks Comments on Expanding Frequencies for Their Use
We previously have reported on Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) authorization of use of earth stations installed on aircraft to communicate with Fixed-Satellite Service (“FSS”) spacecraft in geostationary orbits. These Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft are part of a broader category of Earth Stations in Motion (“ESIMs”). FCC regulations regarding licensing and operational requirements of...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Telecom and Broadcast Deadlines for Fall 2018 (October/November/December)
Deadlines! Get your deadlines here! With summer in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get back to work and look ahead to the rest of the year. Here’s a list of FCC-related broadcast and telecom deadlines. Please note that the list is NOT exclusive, so there may be others. For help meeting these deadlines or...… Continue Reading
FCC Acts to Speed 5G Rollouts
In a much ballyhooed action on September 26, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) took another stride in its effort to clear away regulatory and administrative obstacles to 5G cell site construction via the issuance of a Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order in a proceeding titled “In the Matter of Accelerating Wireless...… Continue Reading
EAS and WEA Tests Postponed; Now Scheduled for Oct. 3
In coordination with FEMA, the FCC has postponed the nationwide tests of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) to Wednesday, Oct. 3 due to ongoing response efforts to Hurricane Florence. The test was originally scheduled for this Thursday, Sept. 20. On Oct. 3, the WEA test will begin at 2:18 p.m....… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes to Reaffirm its Limitations on the Authority of Local Cable Franchise Authorities
The FCC will vote this month on whether to consider adopting a set of rulings that would limit the authority of cable local franchise authorities (LFAs) in the franchising and regulation of cable systems in response to a recent court case that threatens to expand LFA authority over cable systems and their diverse service offerings....… Continue Reading
Reminder: EAS National Test Scheduled for Sept. 20, But Don’t Use EAS Tone Outside Test
Unless it is delayed by a real national emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the FCC are on track to conduct a combined nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and the Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) system on Thursday, Sept. 20, at 2:20 p.m. EDT. Should you decide to air any news coverage or...… Continue Reading
FCC Activates DIRS for Hurricane Florence; Postpones DIRS Exercise
The FCC issued a Public Notice activating its Disaster Information Reporting Service (DIRS) as Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 storm, is set to make landfall in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic regions causing catastrophic flooding, high winds, and heavy rains. Broadcasters and other communications providers in those regions are encouraged to voluntarily supply certain filings with...… Continue Reading
FCC Proceeding on C Band Use and Receive Only Earth Stations Moves Forward; Comments Due Oct. 29
The Commission issued an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the proceeding relating to the use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band. As we’ve previously written, the Commission has been considering allowing the use of the 3.7 to 4.2 GHz band (known as the C band) by mobile broadband. The C-band is currently...… Continue Reading
Copyright Enters the Twilight Zone (A Series of Controversial Decisions May Not Be as Bad as They Seem: Part Two)
If you read the first part of this two-part post on some bizarre copyright decisions emanating from federal courts in 2018, you know I left you with a cliffhanger. Copyright law was seemingly turned on its head when a federal court judge in New York declared that embedding tweets with photos could be considered direct...… Continue Reading
FCC Releases Annual Regulatory Fee Order – Payments Due Sept. 25
While we all hit the beach for the last time this Labor Day weekend, the FCC today released the final listing of regulatory fees for 2018 and their due dates. Although the FCC has not yet activated the Fee Filer system for 2018 regulatory fees, we expect that to happen very soon. Fees must be...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Telecom and Broadcast Deadlines September – October 2018
Do you know what FCC telecom and broadcast deadlines are approaching? We do. Time to mark up your calendars so you’re not late on these important deadlines. Call FHH at (703) 812-0400 if you have trouble meeting these deadlines or need assistance. Broadcast deadlines: Sept. 20, 2018 – EAS National Test – Participants’ ETRS Form Two...… Continue Reading
Comment Deadline Set for NPRM on Rules for Distributing Repack Funds to LPTV, TV Translator, and FM Stations; Comments due Sept. 26
As we reported last week, the FCC has proposed new rules to distribute the funds allocated under the Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA). These funds are to be used to reimburse broadcasters that were involuntarily affected by the post-incentive auction repacking of television stations. Under the REA and the proposed rules, FM radio stations and LPTV...… Continue Reading
Copyright Enters the Twilight Zone (A Series of Controversial Decisions May Not Be All that They Seem: Part One)
[Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part episode on three copyright decisions issued by federal courts in 2018 that relate to the use of photos in news reporting; the second part will be posted next week.] Picture for a moment a man. Not an ordinary man by any stretch. This man is Tom...… Continue Reading
FCC Postpones DIRS Exercise to Sept. 13 Due to Hurricane Lane
As we reported yesterday, the FCC was set to conduct a voluntary DIRS exercise Aug. 23 – Aug. 24. However, due to the possible activation of the DIRS for Hurricane Lane set to hit Hawaii this week, the FCC has postponed the DIRS exercise until Sept. 13. The FCC will send out additional information in...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes Rules for Distributing Repack Funds to LPTV, TV Translator, and FM Stations; Part II: FM Stations
(Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for information on LPTV and TV Translators review Part One here.) Back in March 2018, Congress passed the Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which allocated additional funds to be used to reimburse broadcasters involuntarily affected by the post-incentive auction repacking of television stations. In addition to providing additional money for full-power...… Continue Reading
DIRS Exercise Happening This Week (Aug. 23-24)
On Aug. 15 many broadcast stations received an e-mail from the FCC regarding a Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS) exercise scheduled for later this week: Aug. 23-24. The DIRS keeps track of the status of both broadcast and non-broadcast communications facilities during natural disasters, including whether a facility is operating, the availability of electric power,...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes Rules for Distributing Repack Funds to LPTV, TV Translator, and FM Stations; Part I: LPTV and TV Translators
Back in March 2018, Congress passed the Reimbursement Expansion Act (REA), which allocated additional funds to be used to reimburse broadcasters involuntarily affected by the post-incentive auction repacking of television stations. In addition to providing additional money for full-power and Class A stations, the REA for the first time expanded the universe of stations eligible...… Continue Reading
RMLC and GMR Agree to Extend Interim License for Another Six Months
We have been following the ongoing saga that is the dispute-turned-litigation between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) and Global Music Rights (GMR) since late 2016, providing several updates along the way. What started as an impasse between a main representative of commercial radio stations in the country on music licensing issues (the RMLC) and...… Continue Reading
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