Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Monthly Archives: November 2011

December 1 Deadline for Biennial Ownership Reports Begins A Busy Regulatory Month for Broadcasters

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, Digital Radio, FCC Fees, General FCC, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting
All commercial broadcasters (AM/FM/TV and even LPTV) have to file their Biennial Ownership Reports on December 1, beginning a very busy month in the broadcaster’s regulatory world.  December 1 is also the deadline for noncommercial ownership reports to be filed by noncommercial radio stations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, and noncommercial television … Continue Reading

FCC Says TV Shared Services Agreement and a Combination of Two Top 4 Network Affiliates in One Market is Permissible – For Now

Posted in Multiple Ownership Rules, Television
In an eagerly anticipated case involving TV stations in the Honolulu market, the FCC’s Media Bureau determined that a programming swap that permitted one company to hold the licenses of both the NBC and CBS affiliates in a single market, and to also provide technical and office services and news programming to a third station in the market, was permissible under … Continue Reading

December 22 Comment Deadline Set for FCC Proposal for Online Public Inspection File for TV – What is the Regulatory Burden?

Posted in Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
The FCC has set the date for comments on the proposal for television stations to maintain an online public inspection file, including an online political file (see Federal Register notice here).  Comments are due on December 22.  Replies are due on January 6.  Happy Holidays from the FCC!  We summarized the FCC’s proposals here and here.  While … Continue Reading

Congress and the Commission Look to Make FCC More Responsive and to Take Costs Into Account in Making New Rules – Will It Work?

Posted in General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules
In recent weeks, there seems to be a competition to make the FCC more responsive, and to mandate that, before it adopts any new regulations, it take into account the costs of the proposed regulations and the burden that they place on those being regulated.  The Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee … Continue Reading

FCC Continues EEO Audits, This Time Just For Cable Systems – A Reminder for All to Keep Up EEO Compliance and Paperwork

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity
The FCC has just announced another of its regular EEO audits, though this time its just for cable systems (see the FCC Public Notice and list of affected systems here).  The FCC will audit 5% of all broadcasters and cable companies each year to assess their EEO compliance, so be prepared in case you are next.  … Continue Reading

FCC Proposes New Form Requiring TV Broadcasters to Document their Public Interest Programming

Posted in Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
When the FCC last month started a new proceeding to mandate an online public file for television stations, the Commission promised to soon initiate another proceeding to look into the need for a new form to document the public interest programming that TV stations provide.  The FCC today fulfilled that promise, and issued a Notice of Inquiry ("NOI") to … Continue Reading

DTV Station Reminder: FCC Form 317 Reporting on Ancillary Services Due Dec. 1st

Posted in Digital Television, Low Power Television/Class A TV
By December 1, 2011, all commercial and noncommercial full power digital television (DTV) stations, as well as all digital low power, Class A, and television translator stations must electronically file an FCC Form 317 with the FCC. This Form reports whether the station has provided any ancillary and supplementary services during the twelve-month period ending on … Continue Reading

Assessing Results of the Nationwide EAS Test – More Forms, Calls for Internet Alerts

Posted in Emergency Communications
Now that we’ve completed last week’s first-ever Nationwide test of the EAS system, designed to alert Americans in the event of an emergency, the FCC is in the process of collecting information about the successes and failures of the test, through the submissions of participants.  Forms reporting on the results of the test are due by December 27.  … Continue Reading

FTC Consent Decree Reinforces Need for Websites Aimed at Kids to Comply with COPPA

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, Privacy
If your station engages in children’s programming and maintains a website or web page directed to children under the age of 13, this case may be of interest to you.  The operator of a website called Skid-e-Kids, a self-described “Facebook and MySpace for kids,” has learned that it is not enough merely to have a … Continue Reading

Filing Dates Set as FCC Prepares to Auction 119 New FM Radio Channels in March 2012; Related Freeze on All Minor FM Mods Imposed Jan. 3-12, 2012

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, FM Radio
The Commission today released its further Public Notice establishing the filing dates and adopting the procedures for the upcoming auction of 119 New FM Radio channels, scheduled to start on March 27, 2012.  The auction has been designated as FM Auction No. 93 and offers vacant FM allotments in various communities across the country.  Although the Commission removed four allotments from … Continue Reading

Last Minute Thoughts on Nationwide EAS Test – Filling Out the Forms, Be Careful About Post-Event News Coverage

Posted in Emergency Communications
Tomorrow (November 9) will be the first ever Nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, and last minute questions and issues continue to come in.  One caution relayed to us from a very experienced broadcast technical consultant concerns post-test news coverage.  This consultant surmises, probably accurately, that news reports, and perhaps comedy writers, will want to … Continue Reading

The Debate Over Sirius’ Attempt to Directly License Music – SoundExchange Once Said A Marketplace Negotiation to Adjust for High Rates “Was to Be Expected”

Posted in Internet Radio, Music Rights
There have been many reports about the attempts by Sirius XM Radio to license music directly from record labels, bypassing any royalty rates set by the Copyright Royalty Board.  Direct licensing would have Sirius pay the record labels or copyright holders for the rights to use music, avoiding any dealings with SoundExchange, which normally collects the royalties for the public performance … Continue Reading

A Host of FCC Fines of Over $20,000 for Technical and Tower Issues – And a Presentation on How to Avoid FCC Problems to the Kansas Broadcasters

Posted in FCC Fines, Tower Issues
Last week, I did a presentation on the issues facing broadcasters at the Kansas Association of Broadcasters annual convention (a copy of the slides from my presentation is available here).  I spoke about some of the day-to-day issues that can get broadcasters into trouble, as well as some of the big policy issues that broadcasters need … Continue Reading

Revisions to Nationwide EAS Test Plans – Shorter Message and Changes in the FCC Handbook and Forms

Posted in Emergency Communications
With less than a week to go before the first ever Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System ("EAS"), changes are being made for the November 9 test.  In a Public Notice released today, the FCC announced that the EAS message that will be conveyed will be only 30 seconds long, not the two or three minutes … Continue Reading

Third Circuit Reaffirms Rejection of FCC’s “Fleeting Images” Policy, Reverses Super Bowl Fine

Posted in FCC Fines, Indecency
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals today issued its decision in the case dealing with the FCC’s fine for the Janet Jackson "clothing malfunction" Super Bowl incident.  The Court once again rejected the FCC decision - essentially upholding a 2008 decision that had found the FCC’s indecency fine to be an arbitrary departure from prior precedent.  The Court found that … Continue Reading

FCC Asks for Comments on FM Digital Operations With Differing Power Levels on Each Sideband – To Allow Stations to Increase Power and Protect Adjacent Channel Stations From Interference

Posted in Digital Radio
The FCC adopted rules for the digital operation of FM radio stations (known as HD Radio or the Ibiquity In Band On Channel system – IBOC for short) in 2007 and allowed the Media Bureau to amend those rules as technical developments warranted.  In 2010, the Bureau authorized an increase in the power level of the digital portion of … Continue Reading