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Updated 2018-06-21 15:26
‘Leased’ Access or ‘Least’ Access? FCC Chucks 2008 Order and Asks What It Should Do Next
Requirements that cable television systems make a certain amount of channel capacity available for leasing to non-affiliated programmers have been in place since the time when George Orwell predicted that “Big Brother” would control the world – 1984. The leasing rules have never brought about an active leasing marketplace. The FCC is now taking another...… Continue Reading
U.S. v. AT&T and Time Warner: The Death of the ‘Must-Have’ Programming Theory
In a decision issued Tuesday, Judge Richard Leon of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia approved the proposed merger of AT&T and Time Warner. In doing so, he rejected the “must-have” programming theory that was the core of the government’s antitrust case seeking to block the merger. The “must-have” programming theory asserts...… Continue Reading
FCC Advances Toward 5G
Not long from now, your new phone will come with 5G mobile data service: dizzyingly fast with near-zero latency (delay). But don’t expect service everywhere. 5G needs high frequencies for its high data capacity; but the physics of those frequencies means the range will be short, a few hundred meters at most. This will require...… Continue Reading
July 18 Filing Deadline Approaching for FSS Receive Only Earth Stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz C Band
The filing window for receive only C Band earth stations closes July 18. As a reminder, the FCC instituted a filing freeze on applications in the 3.7 – 4.2 GHz Band but allowed for a 90-day filing window exception (which we wrote about here) to allow the filing of new or modification applications for C...… Continue Reading
FM Class C4 Station Proposal Hits the Streets
The FCC has launched a Notice of Inquiry looking toward the creation of a new “C4” class of FM broadcast station, with an effective radiated power (ERP) limit of 12 kW. Although recent press reports suggested that the proposal was getting nowhere at the FCC, someone must have sent in a turn-around specialist, and the...… Continue Reading
FCC Enforces Against Drone Radios
We amateur drone pilots are well schooled in the dangers. We don’t fly close to airports, near power lines, or anywhere in the no-drone-zone that stretches across the entirety of the Washington D.C. region (including, sadly, our own CommLawBlog rooftop deck, which would otherwise be a great place to fly). But we don’t worry much...… Continue Reading
FM Translator Reforms Comment Deadline Set for July 6
A summary of the FCC’s proposed rule changes regarding procedures to resolve complaints of interference caused by FM Translators to primary stations was published in the Federal Register today. That event established July 6 as the deadline for initial comments and August 6 as the deadline for replies. The FCC proposals are designed to streamline...… Continue Reading
FCC Moves to Eliminate Posting of Broadcasting License
Fifty-years ago this fall, as a bewildered University of Oregon freshman, I showed up for an orientation session for newbies who wanted to be on the air at what was then student-programmed KWAX. The station’s chief engineer introduced us to the program log, told us how to take meter readings (required every half hour as...… Continue Reading
FCC Establishes Funds for Post-Hurricane Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
The FCC on Tuesday announced the establishment of the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and the Connect USVI Fund in an effort to help “rebuild, improve, and expand voice and broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.” These funds are part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to rebuild communications networks in Puerto...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes 2018 Regulatory Fees
As we pack up our swimming trunks and beach umbrellas for the unofficial start of summer, the FCC this week issued its 2018 Regulatory Fee Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). This NPRM puts in motion the process for payment of regulatory fees which will likely be due sometime in September. For the most part, the...… Continue Reading
Let’s Try This Again – FCC Seeks Comments on TCPA/Robocall Issues Remanded By D.C. Circuit.
Like telemarketing “robocalls” that never seem to go away, the FCC’s attempts to clarify important and difficult statutory and regulatory issues under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) seem to constantly reoccur. Now the FCC is trying again, with a Public Notice seeking comments on: the definition of an “automatic telephone dialing system” (ATDS), how...… Continue Reading
FCC Proposes Rules to Reform Procedures on FM Translator Station Complaints
The FCC at its May Open Meeting adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) proposing reforms to the Commission’s current procedures used to resolve complaints of interference caused by FM translator stations. As the NPRM recites, the FM translator service was instituted in 1970 as a way to improve reception of FM radio stations in...… Continue Reading
FCC Enforces Regulations Against LED Signs
Those bright, colorful LED signs are up everywhere. They advertise gasoline prices, announce church services, and promote specials at the dry-cleaner. You can program them to say anything you want, with eye-catching animation. And sometimes they cause interference to radio communications. Wait — LED signs? CommLawBlog readers know all about radio interference from well pumps and fluorescent lights and (of course) bitcoin...… Continue Reading
Bye Bye Net Neutrality Starting June 11
Mark your calendars because the time has come: as of June 11 the FCC announced yesterday that its Open Internet rules (better known as “net neutrality”) will cease and new FCC rules governing the Internet will take effect. This was the latest in a series of procedural milestones in the net neutrality debate. In a...… Continue Reading
Changes Are Coming for the Key Frequency Band at 4 GHz
Radio spectrum and real estate have a lot in common. They’re not making any more of either; and for both, location really does matter. “Location,” for spectrum, means frequency. Much as different real estate locations best serve different purposes, different technological applications work best in different frequency ranges. Like prime downtown addresses, though, all the...… Continue Reading
FCC Grants Puerto Rico Broadcasters Recovery Relief Request for FM Translator Applicants Impacted by Hurricanes Maria and Irma
On May 1, the FCC’s Media and Wireless Bureaus granted a request filed by Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth attorneys Frank Montero and Keenan Adamchak on behalf of the Puerto Rico Broadcasters Association (PRBA) to waive the FCC’s rules limiting the scope of settlements involving mutually exclusive (MX) FM translator applications filed in the Auction 100...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast Deadlines May – June 2018
Do you know what FCC filing deadlines are in the coming months? We do. Time to mark up your calendars so you’re not late on these important deadlines. Call FHH if you have trouble meeting these deadlines or need assistance. May 15, 2018 – Elimination of the Requirement to File EEO Mid-Term Reports – Reply Comments...… Continue Reading
FCC Issues Temporary Freeze on Application Filings for Fixed-Satellite Earth Station Licenses and Other Satellites in the 3.7-4.2 GHz “C”- Band
Effective as of April 19, the Commission last week issued a Public Notice announcing a temporary freeze on the filing of new or modification applications for fixed-satellite (FSS) earth station licenses, receive-only earth station registrations, and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz frequency band, known as the C-Band. Currently, the Commission has an ongoing...… Continue Reading
CBRS: The Path Ahead
The Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) was originally envisioned as a true people’s broadband radio service – one that would be either free or highly affordable for small, locally-based operations of limited breadth and duration. The paradigm was a conscious break from the Metropolitan Statistical Area – or- larger sized service areas with 10-year renewable...… Continue Reading
The FCC Looks Toward the Further Commercialization of the Educational Broadband Service
On the books for the FCC’s May Open Meeting will be a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) regarding rule changes to establish commercial eligibility for Educational Broadband Service (EBS) licenses and to “rationalize” the EBS service areas. EBS is not a well-known radio service, so to appreciate the significance of these changes, a little history...… Continue Reading
The FCC Moves to Accommodate Small Satellites
Satellites – even small ones – need radio spectrum. Without radios to communicate, a satellite is just a hunk of metal and plastic in the sky. The first man-made satellite, the Russian Sputnik in 1957, carried nothing but a radio transmitter. It sent a sequence of beeps that said: I am here. Early communications satellites...… Continue Reading
Multi-Line Telephone Systems and Enterprise Communications Systems; Kari’s Law and Other 911-Related Developments
Earlier this year, the President signed into federal law the Kari’s Law Act of 2017, a measure aimed at ensuring multi-line telephone systems (MLTS) users can directly access emergency personnel by dialing 911 without first dialing an access code. As you’ve probably observed, the passage of this new federal law was somewhat bittersweet, as the...… Continue Reading
LPTV Displacement Filing Window Extended to June 1
On April 18, Commission’s Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau announced that it was extending the special filing window for displaced Low Power Television and TV Translator Stations for a few extra weeks. The window for filing such applications will now close on June 1 at 11:59 p.m. EDT. The original due date was...… Continue Reading
$40 Million FCC Settlement with T-Mobile for Rural Call Completion Issues Signal of Things to Come
Callers placing long distance calls to rural areas have, at times, experienced difficulties in having their calls go through. This occurs most often in rural areas where the costs incurred by long distance providers have generally been higher than in non-rural areas. In 2012, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling which determined that carriers that...… Continue Reading
FCC Reaches $40 Million Settlement with T-Mobile on Rural Call Completion Issues
Callers placing long distance calls to rural areas have, at times, experienced difficulties in having their calls go through. This occurs most often in rural areas where the costs incurred by long distance providers have generally been higher than in non-rural areas. In 2012, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling which determined that carriers that...… Continue Reading
Wrong Number! D.C. Circuit Rules on Challenges to the FCC’s 2015 TCPA Order Part IV: What’s Next – New FCC Rulemakings and Impact on Litigation
Robocalls – everyone has strong feelings about them. In many cases they serve a useful function, but they are often unwanted and/or fraudulent, and they are the largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC. In response, the FCC in 2015 issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order intended to broaden the number of calls subject...… Continue Reading
Comments on FCC Proposed EEO Form 397 Elimination due by April 30; Reply Comments Due May 15
In March 2018, the FCC proposed eliminating the Equal Employment Opportunity Mid-Term Report (also known as Form 397) and now those wishing to voice their opinions can do so until April 30. As we’ve discussed before, this is part of the FCC’s ongoing Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative (spearheaded by Chairman Pai). Currently, Form 397...… Continue Reading
FCC Issues Big Fines to Sprint and Mobilitie for Siting Violations
(But Doesn’t Offer Much Explanation as to Details or Guidance for Future Acceptable Action) On April 10, the FCC released Orders and associated Consent Decrees resolving investigations into alleged violations of the site registration and/or pre-construction environmental review procedures by Sprint and Mobilitie. In the past, the Commission has made it clear that it means...… Continue Reading
Wrong Number! D.C. Circuit Rules on Challenges to the FCC’s 2015 TCPA Order Part III: The Problem of Reassigned Phone Numbers
Robocalls – everyone has strong feelings about them. In many cases robocalls, or automated calls and text messages, serve a useful function (and not just for telemarketing). But unfortunately, they are often unwanted and/or fraudulent, and they are the largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC. In response, the FCC in 2015 issued a...… Continue Reading
Wrong Number! D.C. Circuit Rules on Challenges to the FCC’s 2015 TCPA Order Part II: Revocation of Consumer Consent
Robocalls – everyone has strong feelings about them. In many cases robocalls, or automated calls and text messages, serve a useful function (and not just for telemarketing). But unfortunately, they are often unwanted and/or fraudulent, and they are the largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC. In response, the FCC in 2015 issued a...… Continue Reading
Reply Comments on FCC Incubator Diversity Program Due April 9
On Nov. 20, 2017, the FCC released an Order on Reconsideration of several of its broadcast multiple and cross-ownership rules, which included a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) looking toward increasing minority, female, and small business ownership by establishing an “incubator” program which incentives established broadcasters to help those types of entities. Comments on the...… Continue Reading
Wrong Number! D.C. Circuit Rules on Challenges to the FCC’s 2015 TCPA Order Part I: The Debate Over Defining ‘Autodialer’
Robocalls – everyone has strong feelings about them. In many cases robocalls, or automated calls and text messages, serve a useful function (and not just for telemarketing). But unfortunately, they are often unwanted and/or fraudulent, and they are the largest source of consumer complaints to the FCC. In response, the FCC in 2015 issued a...… Continue Reading
March 23: The Day that Shared Services Agreements Became Part of the Public File Family
As of March 23, the FCC rule requiring the inclusion in the online public file of TV stations’ “shared services agreements” (SSAs) is now in effect. Under the Paperwork Reduction Act, the effectiveness of the SSA filing requirement had to wait for approval by the Office of Management and Budget, which has now occurred. This...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcast Deadlines April 2018 – May 2018
Do you know what FCC filing deadlines are in the coming months? We do. Time to mark up your calendars so you’re not late on these important deadlines. Call FHH if you have trouble meeting these deadlines or need assistance. April 2, 2018 – EEO Public File Reports – All radio and television station employment...… Continue Reading
FCC Updates DTV Reception Map
Last week, the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau launched an updated DTV Reception map aimed at helping consumers during the post-Incentive Auction repack. The new DTV Reception Map (available here) will reflect changes to TV stations as they begin transmitting on new channels between now and July 2020 during the post-Incentive Auction...… Continue Reading
Reminder: Special LPTV/Translator Displacement Filing Window Opens April 10
In case you forgot, this a reminder to Low Power Television and TV Translator broadcasters of the FCC’s Special Displacement Window for LPTV Stations. The FCC issued a 60-day advanced notice of the filing window which opens up on Tuesday, April 10 and lasts through Tuesday, May 15 at 11:59 p.m. EST. This special window...… Continue Reading
Repack Funds and First Responders – What Broadcasters Need to Know About the ‘Omnibus’ Spending Bill of 2018
On Friday, March 23 President Trump signed a $1.3 trillion appropriations bill that will mean some significant changes to the broadcasting community. The 2,232-page omnibus bill not only includes an additional $1 billion for spectrum repack on top of the already $1.75 billion already allocated, but also changes how broadcasters are treated in terms of...… Continue Reading
FHH Attorneys Show Broadcasting’s Future Leaders the Ropes
The BLT is a 10-month Executive MBA-style program that exposes rising broadcast executives to the fundamentals of successful radio and TV station ownership and operation. Created by the National Association of Broadcasters Education Foundation (NABEF), the BLT is taught by a volunteer faculty of well-regarded industry professionals, so FHH is proud to be represented among...… Continue Reading
Attention Commercial Radio Stations: Upcoming Deadline for Eligible Stations to Receive Retroactive Refund of Certain SESAC License Fees
If you are a commercial radio station that authorized the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) to represent you in negotiations and litigation against SESAC, then you need to act quickly to receive the full fruits of the RMLC’s labor. Unless you return an executed copy of the RMLC-SESAC radio license to SESAC by March 26,...… Continue Reading
Even REALLY Small Satellites Need FCC Licenses
Satellites? What Satellites? Oh, Those Satellites! We all have our “Oops!” moments – locking ourselves out of the house, losing the passport, missing a stop sign with the police right there… so we know how the folks at Swarm Technologies may have felt after their launch partner put into orbit a multiple-satellite payload, including four...… Continue Reading
New Hearing Aid Compatibility Standards to Take Effect March 30
This week, the FCC announced that March 30 will be the effective date for amending hearing aid compatibility (HAC) rules. These rules, published in the Federal Register on March 6, were designed to allow those who are hard of hearing to have access to the national telecommunications network and to further implement the Twenty-First Century...… Continue Reading
Announcing a New Team Member to our CommLawBlog Team: Sekoia Rogers
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PLC and the CommLawBlog team are thrilled to welcome Sekoia Rogers as the firm’s newest associate starting March 1, 2018. Ms. Rogers joined the firm in September 2017 as a legal fellow after receiving her law degree from American University Washington College of Law in May of 2017. In fact, you’ve...… Continue Reading
Political Broadcasting Rules Q&A
With primaries in some states happening as soon as March, the 2018 election cycle is certain to be contentious and hard-fought. Now is the time for broadcasters to review their systems to ensure that they will be in compliance with the FCC’s political advertising requirements. Now that all broadcast stations are required to place political...… Continue Reading
Above 95 – FCC Hits the Stratosphere
The FCC voted today to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order looking toward issuing licenses for frequencies above 95 GHz. That’s GigaHertz, not MegaHertz – way up there, beyond the highest frequencies that are commonly used today, at least by the private sector. Historically, frequencies this high were not considered useful for communication...… Continue Reading
FCC Officially Publishes Net Neutrality Rollback Rule; Will Take Effect on April 23
Well, it’s official: the Open Internet rule, better known as Net Neutrality, will go bye-bye starting April 23. Today, the hotly debated final notice of the Open Internet Rule (better known as Net Neutrality) was published in the Federal Register. Net neutrality goes away as of April 23 except for certain provisions that require review...… Continue Reading
FCC Challenges Bitcoin Miner (But Not for Mining Bitcoins)
You know how bitcoins work. Not yet? We’re still coming up to speed. But we do get the part where bitcoins are created by people doing a lot of intensive computation called “mining.” It reminds us of the old Warner Brothers cartoon where a character turns a crank on a machine and dollar bills fly...… Continue Reading
FCC Opens Up Special Displacement Window for LPTV Stations
Last week the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau announced the opening of a 60-day filing window for those LPTV stations who are being displaced as a result of the post-incentive auction repacking process. The “Special Displacement Window” applies to certain LPTV stations, TV translators, and analog-to-digital replacement translators. The window will...… Continue Reading
FCC Extends Comment Deadline on National TV Ownership Cap
On Feb. 12, the Commission announced that it would extend the comment deadline for a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding potential changes to the national television ownership cap. Comments are now due by March 19 and reply comments will be due by April 18. The NPRM was adopted on Dec. 14 beginning the FCC’s “comprehensive...… Continue Reading
Commercial Broadcasters March Toward a Second Extension of GMR Interim License
Over the past 14 months, we’ve kept our readers updated on the music licensing fight between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) and Global Music Rights (GMR). This, of course, started when the two sides couldn’t reach an agreement on the terms of a license that would allow the commercial radio stations represented by the...… Continue Reading
DataConnex Gets Hit with $18.7M Fine for Violation of the Rural Health Care Program
As it has for many months now, the FCC at its January Open Meeting continued its review of the Rural Health Care Program (RHCP). This time, it issued a proposed $18.7M fine against health care telecommunications service provider DataConnex. A reseller of telecommunications services, DataConnex is alleged to have taken in millions of dollars from...… Continue Reading
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