Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: License Renewal

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Radio Owner Forfeits Several FCC Licenses for Being Silent For Prolonged Periods of Time – Warning to Broadcasters for Next License Renewal Cycle

Posted in License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Last week, the FCC issued a consent decree entered into with a broadcaster who is the licensee of multiple radio stations, many of which were silent for long periods during the last license renewal cycle. As part of the deal, in order to get renewals for 12 stations granted, the licensee agreed to either surrender… Continue Reading

FCC Votes to Abolish Requirement for Retaining Letters From the Public on Station Operations – First Step in Broadcast Deregulation?

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC on Tuesday voted to abolish the 44 year old requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain, in their public file, letters (and emails) from the public dealing with station operations (see the full Order here). As noted by the Commissioners in their comments at the FCC meeting (and as we suggested here and here… Continue Reading

License Renewal Shows FCC Does Not Regulate Content – Implications for Calls to Regulate Fake News?

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, License Renewal, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Last week, the full FCC issued a decision upholding the license renewal grant of a Pacifica-owned radio station in New York. A listener was complaining that the station broadcast favorable statements about an individual who had shot a police officer. The FCC first noted that the listener had not provided details of the statement, but… Continue Reading

FCC Sets Hearing to Determine if Station License Renewal Should Be Denied For Conducting Unsafe Contest

Posted in FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal
Last week, we wrote an article which received much attention, addressing the legal issues that could come up if contests are not conducted properly. One issue that we did not anticipate was reflected in an FCC order released yesterday, designating for hearing the license renewal of the Entercom Sacramento radio station that was involved in… Continue Reading

Summaries of the Legal Issues Facing Radio and TV Broadcasters – Staying on Top of Your Regulatory Obligations

Posted in AM Radio, Appearances, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, Drones, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Intellectual Property, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Political Broadcasting, Television
Each quarter, my partner David O’Connor and I update a list of the legal and regulatory issues facing TV broadcasters. That list of issues is published by TVNewsCheck and is available on their website, here. This update was published today, and provides a summary of the status of legal and regulatory issues ranging from the… Continue Reading

Reminder on August 30 Effective Date for Increases in FCC Application Fees

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fees, License Renewal
While most broadcasters are awaiting word of when the FCC’s annual regulatory fees will be due (an announcement that should be coming any day now as regulatory fees will be paid in September by all commercial broadcasters to offset the cost of being regulated), the FCC announced yesterday that its application fees are going up… Continue Reading

Update: More on Marijuana Advertising

Posted in Advertising Issues, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In the few days since I posted this update on concerns about marijuana advertising, there has been much attention devoted to the subject – and none of it undermines my belief that broadcasters need to continue to be cautious in this area. Yesterday, there was an article in the Sacramento Bee newspaper, specifically addressing the… Continue Reading

FDA Continues to Schedule Marijuana as a Schedule I Drug – Doing Nothing to Clarify the Still Murky State of Broadcast Advertising

Posted in Advertising Issues, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Last week’s letter from the FDA detailing its position that there should be no change in marijuana being classified as a Schedule I drug under Federal law reinforces the fact that, under Federal law, the drug is still illegal – no matter what certain states may do to legalize or decriminalize its use. As the… Continue Reading

Long Periods of Silence Can Jeopardize a Station’s License – $5000 Fine and Short-Term Renewal Given to a Station that had Been Silent for Extended Periods

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In a decision released last week, the FCC made clear that stations that have long periods in which they are not operated (perhaps being put back into operation for a day or two every year to avoid the automatic cancellation of their licenses) are not operating in the public interest, and are putting their license… Continue Reading

July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – FM Translators for Class A and B AMs; Quarterly Issue Programs and Children’s Television Reports; Comments on EAS, Letters from the Public and Regulatory Fees, Cable Royalty Claims; and More

Posted in Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
While TV broadcasters can enjoy an incentive auction respite in July as attention shifts to the “forward auction” where we will see whether wireless carriers come up with enough money to fund the $86,422,558,704 (plus $1.75 billion for repacking costs, plus auction-related administrative costs) needed for the buyout of TV stations who agreed to surrender… Continue Reading

Does the FCC Use the Online Public File to Spot Rule Violations? $20,000 Fine to TV Station for Late-Filed Children’s Television Reports Suggests it Does

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
In a Notice of Apparent Liability released yesterday, the FCC proposed to fine a TV station $20,000 for being late in the filing of 4 years of Quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports (FCC Form 398). While the penalty is consistent with the size of penalties that the FCC has been imposing for similar violations in… Continue Reading

The Murky State of Rules on Broadcast Advertising of Marijuana Products in States Which Have Legalized its Sale or Use

Posted in Advertising Issues, General FCC, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
  Broadcasters, like other federally regulated industries, continue to be leery about advertising for marijuana, even in states where cannabis dispensaries have been legalized for medical or even recreational use.  This week, the NY Times ran an article about companies trying to provide ways for dispensaries to use electronic payment systems, as federally regulated banks… Continue Reading

On Its 20th Anniversary, Looking Back at How the Telecommunications Act of 1996 Changed the Broadcast Regulatory Landscape

Posted in General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Multiple Ownership Rules, On Line Media, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
In Washington DC this week, many in the communications world are commemorating the 20th anniversary of the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Five years ago, we noted the changes that the Act made in the broadcast regulatory world – changes that are still being debated 20 years later. To show how little things… Continue Reading

The Care and Feeding of the Broadcast Public Inspection File – Requirements and Retention Periods, A Presentation on the Issues

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, License Renewal, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC requires each full-power broadcast station, commercial and noncommercial, to maintain a public inspection file.  Even though this is a longstanding FCC requirement, there are always questions about what goes into the file, and how long those materials must be retained.  The week before last, I conducted a webinar for about 20 state broadcast… Continue Reading

The Limits on FCC Leniency on Fines for Noncommercial Broadcast Stations

Posted in Appearances, FCC Fines, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting
In a decision released last Friday, the FCC made clear how far it is willing to go in extending to noncommercial stations leniency for fines for violations of its rules. As we have written before, the FCC changed its policy in a case in which we were involved so as to mitigate harsh penalties for… Continue Reading

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Many Routine Filings for All Broadcasters, Incentive Auction Actions, and More

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
October is one of those months where the regulatory stars align, when not only do broadcasters in many states have EEO Public File report obligations, but also Quarterly Issues Programs Lists need to be placed in the public files of all commercial and noncommercial stations, and Quarterly Children’s Television Reports need to be filed at… Continue Reading

August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – While Incentive Auction Dominates the News, Other Dates to Watch

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
With tomorrow’s FCC meeting to detail dates and procedures for the TV incentive auction dominating the headlines, there are other August regulatory dates that should not be overlooked. While we never can get to all of the relevant dates in our monthly highlight article, here are a few items worth your consideration. For one, we… Continue Reading

$90,000 Payment to FCC by TV Owner for Claiming Reruns of One-Time Programs as Meeting “CORE” Children’s Educational and Informational Programming Requirement

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Television
On Friday, the FCC announced a consent decree for violations of the requirements that TV stations provide at least three weekly hours of CORE programming addressing the educational and informational needs of children. The operator of eight TV and Class A TV stations in the southeast US agreed to make a $90,000 “voluntary contribution” to… Continue Reading

FCC Asks for Comments on Petition for Rulemaking that Would Tie TV License Renewals to Restrictions on Blackouts after the Expiration of Retransmission Consent Agreements

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Intellectual Property, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC issued a public notice seeking comment on a Petition for Rulemaking filed by cable operator Mediacom asking for the FCC to require TV stations, in their license renewal applications, to certify that the licensee will not block any multichannel video programming distributor (i.e. cable or satellite TV) from carrying the signal of the station… Continue Reading

June Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO Public File Reports and Form 397, CALM Act Compliance Obligations, Incentive Auction Actions, Comments on Reg Fees and LPFM Rules, and More

Posted in Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fees, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
June brings some standard obligations for broadcasters in a number of states with anniversaries of their license renewal filing, plus the return of an obligation that we have not seen in 4 years- the obligations of radio stations in certain states to file an FCC Form 397 Mid-Term EEO Report. In addition to these routine… Continue Reading

FCC Issues Reminder on Form 397 EEO Mid-Term Reports – Filing Obligations Begin on June 1 for Radio Stations in DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, License Renewal
EEO Mid-Term Reports on FCC Form 397 must be filed at the mid-point of the renewal cycle of radio stations if they are part of a station employment unit with more than 10 full-time employees, or 5 or more full-time employees for TV. A station employment unit is one or more commonly-controlled stations serving substantially the… Continue Reading

May Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Including EEO Mid-Term Reports, FM Auction, Emergency Communications Compliance, TV Market Modification Comments, Class A TV Digital Conversion Deadline and More

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Television
May is one of those months where there are no routine, recurring FCC regulatory filing deadlines – no EEO reports or Quarterly Issues Programs lists, no Children’s Television Programming Reports or noncommercial station ownership report deadlines. But, as with any month, that does not mean that there are no dates of concern for broadcasters –… Continue Reading

April Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Including Quarterly Issues Programs and Children’s Television Reports; Comments In Proceedings Including One on Digital Auxiliaries; and More Incentive Auction Seminars

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
April is one of those months with many routine FCC obligations. Quarterly Issues Programs lists need to be in your public file by the 10th of the month. This is an obligation for all full-power broadcast stations – commercial or noncommercial. Similarly, all TV stations have an obligation to submit their Children’s Television Reports on… Continue Reading

FCC Renews Television Station Licenses after Challenges on the Educational Nature of Children’s Programming – With a Warning to Other Broadcasters

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, Digital Television, License Renewal, Programming Regulations, Television
In a decision released yesterday, the FCC renewed the licenses of three TV stations held by large broadcast groups, rejecting Petitions to Deny filed by a citizen’s organization arguing that the children’s educational and informational programming run by these stations was not sufficiently educational or informational to meet the requirement that stations run three hours… Continue Reading