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Category Archives: Programming Regulations

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FCC Extends for 18 Months the Requirement for TV Stations to Convert Visual Emergency Information to Audio on SAP Channel

Posted in Digital Television, Emergency Communications, Programming Regulations, Television
The FCC released an order last week giving TV stations an additional 18 months to comply with a requirement that emergency information conveyed to the TV audience during non-news programming in a visual or graphical manner (e.g. on-screen weather maps during entertainment programming) be converted to audio that is broadcast on the TV station’s SAP… Continue Reading

Reminder: Free Webinar Next Week on Trademark Law – Protect Your Slogans and Brands

Posted in Advertising Issues, Appearances, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
The protection of brands, slogans, positioning statements and program titles must be a high priority of any electronic media company. These assets establish the identity of any broadcaster, webcaster or other media company.  Media companies need to protect these assets through the rights accorded by trademark law.  We have been running a series of articles on… Continue Reading

What Broadcasters Can Learn from the Rolling Stone Defamation Case

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
At the end of last week, the press reported on the jury verdict finding Rolling Stone magazine to be liable for defamation for its story, later retracted, about a gang rape at the University of Virginia. The case was brought by a University administrator who was portrayed negatively, including making her sound as if she… Continue Reading

What Could Possibly Go Wrong With a Broadcast Contest? – From the Legal Side

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Earlier this week, our friends at the broadcast and digital media consulting and research firm Jacobs Media posted an article on their blog called “What Could Possibly Go Wrong,” dealing with the financial and reputational issues that can arise if a contest is not fully thought out. That article reminded me of all of the… Continue Reading

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Obligations, Noncommercial Biennial Ownership Reports, and Incentive Auction Comment Deadlines

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
Another month has started – and it is one with regulatory dates for broadcasters. All broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial, have an obligation to complete their Quarterly Issues Programs lists and place them into their public inspection filed by October 10. For TV stations and large-market commercial radio, that means that these lists need to be… Continue Reading

September FCC Meeting To Be a Big One for Media Companies – Set Top Boxes, Foreign Ownership of Broadcast Stations and Promotion of Independent Programming

Posted in Cable Carriage, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Multiple Ownership Rules, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Television
September 29 will be a big day for broadcasters and other media companies when the FCC holds its next open meeting. In the tentative agenda for that meeting released on Thursday, the FCC identified several issues that deal with the media including two big items on video issues – the decision as to what to… Continue Reading

Beware – Using Online Photos and Videos in Radio and TV Productions and on Websites Can Bring Lawsuits for Copyright Infringement if Rights are Not Secured in Advance

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Video, Programming Regulations, Website Issues
Everyone who has a computer, smartphone, or other Internet-connected device has probably spent at least some time perusing photos or videos of cute pets or babies, or of the latest amazing (or sometimes amazingly stupid) things that people do. Broadcasters, in particular, with an audience to reach both through their over-the-air facilities and on their… Continue Reading

Copyright Office Filing System to be Down This Weekend – Warning About the Deadline for Filing Royalty Claims by TV Stations for Copyrighted Programming Used By Cable and Satellite TV

Posted in Cable Carriage, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Television
The websites of the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office, which include the site used by the Copyright Royalty Board, will be down for maintenance this weekend. This includes the portal for filing cable and satellite royalty claims, which will be unavailable 5 p.m. ET, Friday, July 29, through Sunday, July 31. Claims by broadcast… Continue Reading

Covering Breaking News and Local Emergencies – FCC Issues to Consider

Posted in Emergency Communications, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In recent weeks, tragic events in Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge and elsewhere engender thoughts for the victims, their families and their communities.  Events like these have become all too common, and certain normal routine has developed, with broadcast stations devoting substantial amounts of airtime to coverage of the event until some new story takes away… Continue Reading

Legal Issues for Broadcasters – Updates on Pending Matters

Posted in AM Radio, Appearances, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
There are so many legal issues that facing broadcasters that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with them all. This Blog and many other activities that those at my firm engage in are meant to help our clients and other broadcasters keep up to date on all of the many regulatory challenges with which… Continue Reading

$700,000 to Be Paid By Media General to End Inquiry on its Attempts to Enforce a JSA – What are the Limits on the Enforceability of a Contractual Restriction on an FCC Licensee’s Sale of its Station?

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Multiple Ownership Rules, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC yesterday announced a consent decree with Media General by which Media General agreed to pay a $700,000 “settlement payment” to the US Treasury to settle the investigation of its attempts to enforce the provisions of a Joint Sales Agreement with Schurz Communications.  Media General had tried to enforce the JSA when Schurz tried to… Continue Reading

Avoiding Olympic Hassles – Trademark and Other Legal Protections Limit the Use of Olympics, Paralympics and Related Terms in Advertising, Marketing, and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
Over the last several months, we have written about the risks of publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the SUPER BOWL® or MARCH MADNESS® without first asking the NFL or the NCAA, respectively, for permission to use those marks.  With millions of viewers about to tune into the OLYMPIC® games in… Continue Reading

FAA Clears Small Drones for Takeoff: What You Need to Know

Posted in Programming Regulations, Uncategorized
New FAA rules for drones were recently approved, and the rules may provide more opportunities for broadcasters to get in the game.  Emilie de Lozier from my firm offers these thoughts: Broadcasters, prepare for takeoff later this summer.  The Federal Aviation Administration recently finalized rules to broadly permit the commercial operation of small unmanned aircraft… 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

One Week to the Online Public File Effective Date for Top 50 Market Commercial Radio Stations – Don’t Forget to Turn It On!

Posted in General FCC, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
One week to go to the effective date for the online public inspection file for commercial radio stations in the Top 50 radio markets that are part of employment units with 5 or more full-time employees.  Two weeks ago, I conducted a webinar for 19 state broadcast associations on what goes into that file (see… Continue Reading

Equal Opportunities – What to Do With the On-Air Employee who Runs for Political Office

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
Last week, we posted a reminder about the obligations for stations to provide equal opportunities for competing candidates to buy time on broadcast stations, and also talked about how the equal time provisions do not apply to bona fide news and news interview programs. Almost immediately, I received several questions about on-air employees who decide… Continue Reading

Looking at the FCC’s Indecency Rules – Does Anyone Know What’s Prohibited and What’s Permitted?

Posted in FCC Fines, Indecency, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
A Washington Post article published this weekend was titled “Is there anything you can’t say on TV anymore? It’s complicated.” And, it really is. The Post article presents a very good overview on the status of the FCC’s indecency rules. What will happen with those rules has been a matter of conjecture for several years,… Continue Reading

FCC Proposes Expansion of Requirements for TV Stations and MVPDs to Provide Audio Description of Video Programming

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Emergency Communications, Programming Regulations, Television
Last week was a busy one for the FCC, with decisions or proposals on a number of issues that can affect broadcasters, including changes to the EAS rules and proposals for the expansion of video description – the requirements that TV stations carry a certain amount of programming that is accompanied by audio descriptions to… Continue Reading

April Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports and Much More

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
April brings the whole panoply of routine regulatory dates – from the need to prepare EEO Public File and Noncommercial Ownership Reports in some states, to Quarterly Issues Programs lists for all full-power broadcast stations and Quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports for all TV stations.  So let’s look at some of the specific dates that… 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

In Thinking About April Fools’ Day Pranks, Remember the FCC’s Hoax Rule and other Potential Liability

Posted in FCC Fines, Programming Regulations
With April Fools’ Day only a few days away, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our annual reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other bits prepared especially for the day.  While a little fun is OK, remember that the FCC does have a… Continue Reading

FCC Says No to Court’s Enforcement of Contractual Rights that Limit Broadcast Licensee’s Control Rights – What Does this Mean for Broadcast Contracts? 

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
How far can a court go in ordering broadcasters to comply with the terms of a contract?  By trying to get a court to enforce a contract signed with a broadcaster, is the suing party infringing on a licensee’s control over its broadcast station license? These questions are addressed in a letter that the FCC… Continue Reading

Ted Cruz Demands Takedown of PAC Ad Attacking His Voting Record – Issues that Broadcast Stations Need to Consider When Threatened by Candidate Wanting an Ad Pulled

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
According to Politico, Ted Cruz’ campaign has demanded that TV stations pull certain PAC ads which he claims distort his voting record on immigration issues. This kind of claim from a political candidate about the unfairness of attack ads is common. Here, Cruz’ representatives apparently don’t threaten lawsuits against the stations for running the ads,… Continue Reading