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Updated 2018-02-25 09:36
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 telecommunication service provider DataConnex. A reseller of telecommunications services, DataConnex is alleged to have taken in millions of dollars from...… Continue Reading
FCC Annual CPNI Certifications Are Back After One Year Off – Due March 1
It’s that time of year again! (Well, again after a one-year hiatus, that is.) Time for our annual reminder that the annual customer proprietary network information (CPNI) certifications are due by March 1 for most (but not necessarily all) telecommunications carriers and interconnected VoIP providers. CPNI includes a variety of sensitive customer data such as,...… Continue Reading
Noncommercial Stations Beware: When ‘Underwriting’ Spots Turn into Advertising, a Big Penalty Can Follow
Many noncommercial educational (NCE) stations – and their lawyers – were caught by surprise last week when the FCC issued a $115,000 civil penalty against an NCE licensee. The Cesar Chavez Foundation (CCF) was hit for running underwriting spots promoting for-profit entities. CCF agreed to the monetary penalty as part of an FCC approved consent...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Deadlines February 2018 – March 2018
Do you know what FCC filing deadlines are in the coming months? We do. Time to mark up calendars so you’re not late on these important deadlines. Call FHH if you have trouble meeting this deadlines or need assistance. February 9 – Revising Requirements for “Twilight Towers” – Comments are due with regard to the Public...… Continue Reading
Third Circuit Asked to Delay Implementation of Media Ownership Rules
As we previously reported, the deregulatory changes the FCC recently adopted to its media ownership rules are due to take effect on Feb. 7. Prometheus Radio Project and Media Mobilizing Project, however, have filed an appeal of those rule changes in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and, as expected, have now...… Continue Reading
Comment Period Now Open on National Ownership Cap
Last Friday, the FCC published the December Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the national ownership cap in the Federal Register. As we wrote about back in December, the NPRM addresses the current prohibition on any entity owning or controlling television stations that reach more than 39 percent of US television households. The NPRM requests comment...… Continue Reading
White House Deliberates Centralized 5G Network Proposal
Telecommunications companies today got a rude awakening when Axios broke news that the Trump administration is considering a recommendation to centralize and build a 5G wireless network. According to multiple news outlets, members of the U.S. National Security Council (NSC) presented senior White House officials with recommendations to centralize the United States’ 5G network in...… Continue Reading
Children’s Programming Requirements on the Chopping Block?
Could the FCC’s children’s programming requirements (colloquially known as “kidvid”) be on their way out? If Commissioner O’Rielly gets his way, it seems that they might be; Or at the very least they will be subject to some significant revision. In a blog post released on Friday, O’Rielly argued that the rules are outdated, impose...… Continue Reading
Webcaster Wake Up Call!
Three weeks into 2018, we’ll confess to still writing “2017” on the occasional check. Admit it: you probably have too (we can’t be the ONLY ones still writing checks every now and again). Webcasters complying with the statutory licenses found in Sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act – which permit them to webcast...… Continue Reading
Rates to Perform Musical Compositions in 2018-2022 Published for Noncommercial Broadcasters
Attention, noncommercial educational (NCE, a/k/a “public”) broadcasters! If you have been wondering how much you’ll have to pay to broadcast musical compositions this year (and beyond), wonder no more. The rates for 2018 through 2022 were published in the Federal Register on January 19. For those new to the issue, these rates have been administered...… Continue Reading
Shutdown Any Unauthorized Use of Trademarks
While many outside the nation’s capital were engrossed in this weekend’s football games, those inside the beltway were engrossed in their own local sport: politics (especially because D.C.’s team – who shall remain nameless even as that name may be trademarked – hasn’t played for the Lombardi trophy in 26 years). Specifically, “Shutdown” was THE...… Continue Reading
New Media Ownership Rules Take Effect Feb. 7
The FCC’s final Order on Reconsideration in its media ownership proceeding was published in the Federal Register on Jan. 8. This latest step in the long-running saga of the FCC’s attempts to reform its media ownership rules relaxes many media ownership rules. Absent Court intervention or Commission reconsideration, those changes will take effect on Feb....… Continue Reading
To Bridge the Digital Divide or Not…That Is the Question as the FCC Cuts Back Its Lifeline Program
Since Chairman Pai took over the leadership of the FCC, he has emphasized that one of his main goals has been to “close the digital divide and bring the benefits of the Internet age to all Americans.” So it comes as no surprise that the FCC has taken several measures recently to overhaul the Lifeline...… Continue Reading
NOW AVAILABLE: 2018 Political Broadcast Webinar
On the eve of the 2018 mid-term elections, broadcasters will soon have to navigate the FCC’s rules on political broadcasting. To assist with this, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Dan Kirkpatrick, Frank Montero, and Scott Johnson, were joined by the FCC’s Bobby Baker and Gary Schonman to present, in collaboration with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, a webinar on...… Continue Reading
Eighth in a Row! FHH Again Tops List of Transactions Ranking
CommLawBlog is happy to say that Fletcher Heald & Hildreth has, once again, served as lead legal advisor on more transactions than any other law firm, according to S&P Global’s Media and Entertainment and New Media category. This is the EIGHTH (yup! You read that right!) year in a row that we have received this...… Continue Reading
Announcing a New Member to our CommLawBlog Team: Mark Lipp
Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth and CommLawBlog are happy to welcome well-known broadcast attorney Mark Lipp to our broadcast and media practice. Mark joins FHH as a member effective as of Jan. 15. Mark is well-known for representing broadcast stations in a variety of FCC issues including enforcement, renewals, auctions, litigation, and transactions. He also advises...… Continue Reading
Second Translator Window Opens Jan. 25; Freeze Goes Into Effect Today
The window for Class A and B AM stations (and certain Class C and D AM stations) to apply for new cross-service FM translators will open at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018, and close at 5:59 p.m. Eastern Time (not at 11:59 p.m.) on Jan. 31, 2018. This will be the...… Continue Reading
FCC Grants Request by Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth to Revise Post-Auction Broadcast Transition Phase Assignments and Deadlines for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands in Wake of Hurricane Maria
January 16, 2018 – Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth is proud to announce that, through its efforts, the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force and the Media Bureau division on Jan. 11, 2018 granted a request to allow for 20 broadcast TV stations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands to construct post-incentive auction facilities early....… Continue Reading
FCC Issues Its Largest Lump of Coal to Sinclair Broadcasting
A Proposed Fine of $13.4M for Undisclosed Sponsored Content Serves as a Warning to Other Broadcast Stations As we closed the books on 2017, the FCC announced that it plans to fine Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. a record $13.4M, for having not adequately disclosed sponsored content in its programming. The fine was calculated by the...… Continue Reading
FCC Begins Process for Permitting Collocations on Twilight Towers
On Dec.14, the FCC released a Public Notice unveiling a draft Program Comment that will supposedly resolve the longstanding issues surrounding collocating equipment on so-called “Twilight Towers.” Twilight Towers have been stuck in limbo as a result of an ambiguity in the Commission’s rules. Since 2001, the Commission has had rules in place that require...… Continue Reading
Mark Your Calendars: Political Broadcasting Webinar Set for Jan. 18 Hosted by Colorado Broadcasters Association and Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth
Join us on Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 from 2 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. EST for a political broadcasting rules refresher webinar! Presented in collaboration with the Colorado Broadcasters Association and Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, the webinar will be hosted by FHH’s all-star attorneys Frank Montero, Scott Johnson, and Dan Kirkpatrick. And, as an added bonus,...… Continue Reading
FCC Welcomes Blue to the EAS Family
Last week the FCC unanimously adopted a new member to the Emergency Alert Systems (EAS) family: the “Blue Alert.” Transmitted through the broadcast EAS and Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) systems, the Blue Alert is a voluntary alert code that can be used by state and local authorities to alert the public of credible “threats to...… Continue Reading
CMRS Rules Get an FCC Facelift – Say Goodbye to Sections 20.7 and 20.9
Chairman Pai and the FCC last week continued their campaign of revamping FCC rules, this time by adopting a Report and Order tackling the Commission’s Commercial Mobile Radio Services (CMRS). The Order deletes Sections 20.7 and 20.9 of the Commission’s rules and is intended to generally eliminate an “outdated and incomplete list of certain services”...… Continue Reading
Rural Health Care Providers Could Find Relief in FCC Proposal
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission took steps to review and update its Rural Health Care Program (RHCP) via a Notice of Proposed Rule Making and Order. The item seeks comment on how to improve RHCP, including extending a waiver to allow for the rollover of RHCP funds from Fiscal Year 2017 into mid-2018. The...… Continue Reading
Happy Holidays from Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth
All of us at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth wish you peace this holiday season and a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!… Continue Reading
The FCC’s Open Internet Order – Which Freedom?
The fight over the Open Internet (better known as net neutrality) continued Thursday with the Federal Communications Commission voting to reverse the 2015 Title II Order, which reclassified broadband Internet access as a “telecommunications service.” This decision means that the Internet will return to its pre-2015 Title I “information service” classification (For a history of how...… Continue Reading
New European Privacy Laws Going Into Effect Mean ALL Companies Need to Review their Data Collection
Our websites are global, our e-commerce offerings reach customers around the world, our Internet radio broadcasts elicit responses from listeners around the globe and our consultants often hail from London to New Delhi. Whether people pay us, whether we pay them, or whether we just correspond with people interested in our products, services and programs,...… Continue Reading
Effective Date of Main Studio Rule Elimination Announced
Effective Jan. 8, 2018, AM, FM, and television broadcast stations will no longer be required to maintain a main studio. The Commission voted back in October to eliminate the Main Studio Rule based on findings that the cost of maintaining a main studio outweighed the benefits. The Order was published in the Federal Register on...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcasting and Telecommunications Deadlines for January-February 2018
It’s never too early to get a jump start on upcoming deadlines as the New Year approaches. Below is a list of upcoming FCC deadlines to keep on your radar. Note our list is not comprehensive. Other proceedings may apply to you. Please do not hesitate to contact FHH if you have any questions. January 10, 2018...… Continue Reading
‘Here Comes the Sun…’ Federal Magistrate Recommends that RMLC Lawsuit Against GMR be Moved to California
It was around this time last year that one of the most closely watched fights in music licensing history – if not copyright generally – went to the next level as the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) sued Global Music Rights (GMR). The RMLC lawsuit alleges that Irving Azoff-founded newest Performing Rights Organization (PRO), was...… Continue Reading
Deregulation Picks Up Steam: New Media Ownership Rules Foreshadow a New Terrain for Broadcasters
When Ajit Pai took over as Chairman of the FCC, it was widely expected that he would take steps to relax existing restrictions on media ownership. The last month, in particular, has seen a flurry of activity on that front. As we reported, the Chairman released at the end of October the proposed text of...… Continue Reading
Comment Deadlines Set for Proposed Changes in Ancillary/Supplementary Service Report Requirements
As we reported back in October, the Commission has proposed to end the requirement that all digital television, LPTV, and TV translator stations file annual ancillary/supplementary services reports. Plus, it instead requires only stations which actually offer such ancillary/supplementary services to file the forms and report on any revenues received. While this proposal has been...… Continue Reading
FCC Fines Maker of Light Fixtures. Really.
The FCC proposed a fine of $25,000 against a manufacturer of fluorescent lighting fixtures. Wait a minute. Lighting fixtures? Well, sure, the FCC regulates radio transmitters. And digital devices, which produce radio waves as a by-product that can interfere with communications. But lighting fixtures? Will the bathroom plumbing be next? In fact fluorescent fixtures are...… Continue Reading
I Know You Called: FCC Approves New Rules Permitting Disclosure of Blocked Caller IDs For Threatening Calls
If you’re a traditional landline user who grew up prank calling friends, you’re probably familiar with the dialing code *67, which blocked the outgoing Caller ID information from being transmitted to the call recipient. But you probably didn’t know that, under one of the FCC’s privacy rules, your decision to block your Caller ID transmission...… Continue Reading
FCC Approves Voluntary ATSC 3.0 Next Gen TV Implementation
New Opportunities for Next Gen Broadcasters and Simulcast “Host” Stations, but Controversies Remain. Yesterday, the FCC adopted a Report and Order authorizing television broadcasters to use the “Next Generation” broadcast television (Next Gen TV) transmission standard (also called “ATSC 3.0”) on a voluntary, market-driven basis. This Order may herald a revolutionary change in TV broadcasting, opening...… Continue Reading
One Small Step for Cell Sites: FCC Finds that Replacing Utility Poles is Unlikely to Affect Historical Properties
The Federal Communications Commission has taken a very tiny step toward eliminating unnecessary obstacles to the installation of communications facilities on existing structures without triggering historic review obligations. For the last year, the FCC has been reviewing the various regulatory obstacles that are hindering, delaying, and making more expensive the process of establishing new cell...… Continue Reading
Christmas Has Come Early: Media Bureau Waives Ancillary/Supplementary Services Report Filing Requirement
Acting with commendable promptness, the Media Bureau has relieved virtually all television stations from the requirement to file ancillary/supplementary service reports, at least for this year and likely for future years as well. These reports are traditionally due on Dec. 1 of every year. As we reported back in October, the reports are the ones...… Continue Reading
New Equipment Rules Take Effect
Changes to the equipment authorization rules the FCC adopted last July appeared in the Federal Register this morning and take effect today. Major changes include the option of putting required labeling on a device’s display screen, and combination of the former verification and Declaration of Conformity procedures into a new procedure called Supplier’s Declaration of...… Continue Reading
Do You Know Where Your Domain Names Are?
At CommLawBlog, we follow domain name issues closely. Unlike lightning, we find two recurring problems striking regularly. These problematic issues are: the failure to renew domain names and a continuing tendency to register valuable domain names in someone else’s name. While both may seem innocuous, they can cause major problems down the line. Let’s took...… Continue Reading
Upcoming FCC Broadcasting and Telecommunications Deadlines for November-January
Note our list is not comprehensive. Other proceedings may apply to you. Please do not hesitate to contact FHH if you have any questions. November 13, 2017 – EAS National Test – Participants’ ETRS Form Three Due – All EAS participants must submit Form Three, which reports the results of the the national EAS test held on...… Continue Reading
Ancillary/Supplementary Services Report and Public Notice Rule Face Regulatory Weed-Whacker
At its October meeting, the FCC proposed to clear away further regulatory underbrush by eliminating, or drastically modifying, two rules. The first is the requirement that all TV stations engaged in digital broadcasting file annual reports concerning Ancillary/Supplementary services that might have been offered. Second is the requirement that licensees filing certain applications publish and/or...… Continue Reading
FCC Reduces International Carrier Reporting Requirements
On Oct. 24, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission released a Report and Order in which the agency reduced the reporting requirements (found under Section 43.62 of the FCC’s rules) for providers of U.S.-international telecommunications services. Specifically, the FCC eliminated the annual international Traffic and Revenue Reports and streamlined the Circuit Capacity Report filing requirements. The...… Continue Reading
Halloween Tricks for Flo & Eddie and Treats for SiriusXM
Florida Finds No Public Performance Right in Pre-1972 Sound Recordings If you have been following the ongoing saga regarding the attempts of pre-1972 (aka “oldies”) sound recording owners to collect royalties when those recordings are performed, you will know that some recent key court rulings have been issued near major holidays. For example, New...… Continue Reading
FCC Releases Proposed Order to Modify Media Ownership Rules
As expected, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai yesterday released his proposed Order modifying the FCC’s media ownership rules. Consistent with what he announced at an Oct. 25 House Energy and Commerce Committee FCC Oversight Hearing, the Order, if adopted, will allow nearly unrestricted television duopolies in almost every market, eliminate radio/TV cross-ownership restrictions, and abolish the Commission’s long-standing prohibition...… Continue Reading
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