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Category Archives: Programming Regulations

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FCC Asks for Comment on Radio Broadcasters Proposal for Moving Online Some Sponsorship Identifications

Posted in Advertising Issues, Music Rights, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations
A group of radio broadcasters have asked the FCC to agree to waive some provisions of the current sponsorship identification rules of the FCC to permit stations that have sponsored music or sports programming to move some of the required sponsorship identification online (the request is available here). This is to provide listeners with a… Continue Reading

FCC Extends Reply Comment Deadline on Treating Over-the-Top Video as an MVPD

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Internet Video, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Television
The FCC has extended the Reply Comment deadline in its proceeding looking at whether to apply some or all of the regulations applicable to multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs – cable and satellite TV) to over-the-top video providers who provide multiple channels of video programming in a linear fashion (i.e. like a cable system, with the… Continue Reading

March Madness is a Trademarked Term – Use Caution in Using it in Advertising and Promotion

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations
We are in March, which means that the minds of many turn to basketball, specifically March Madness as the NCAA hosts its annual championship tournament to crown college basketball’s national champion. And many broadcasters want to take advantage of the tournament to promote their stations or the products of their sponsors. Because of this inclination,… 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

March Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Closed Captioning Quality Standards Effective Date, Comments on Online Public File, MVPD Status for Online Video Providers, LIFO for Political Ads, and FRNs for Biennial Ownership Reports

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Internet Video, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
March is one of those rare months on the broadcast calendar when there are few routine regulatory deadlines for broadcasters. As we are winding down in the television license renewal cycle, the month’s only license renewal obligations for TV broadcasters are the pre-filing license renewal announcements on the 1st and 16th of the month for… Continue Reading

Beware of Music in Your Podcasts – SoundExchange, ASCAP, BMI and SESAC Don’t Give You the Rights You Need

Posted in Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Website Issues
Last week, I listened in to presentation by RAIN News providing an excellent overview of the digital music industry (their Whitepaper setting out the findings reported during the presentation is available here).  One statement in that presentation suggested to me today’s topic – the use of music in podcasts.  In the RAIN presentation, a statement… Continue Reading

More Big Penalties for Use of EAS Tones in Non-Emergency Programming

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC seems to be making another statement – releasing one decision upholding two very large fines against major cable programmers for improper use of EAS tones in ads for a movie, while just two days later releasing another decision approving a consent decree with a broadcaster imposing a penalty and monitoring conditions for using… Continue Reading

Reminder – Political Broadcasting Rules Apply Even to State and Local Elections

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In odd numbered years like 2015, most broadcast stations don’t think about the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. But they should – and we have been receiving many calls from clients about the perhaps surprising number of elections that are taking place this year.  These include many races for state and local political offices, everything from school… Continue Reading

FCC Regulation of Internet Video? – Dates Set for Comments on Treating Over-the-Top Video Providers like Cable and Satellite TV

Posted in Cable Carriage, Intellectual Property, Internet Video, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Television, Website Issues
Who says that the Internet is not regulated?  Whether to treat Internet video providers by the same rules that apply to cable and direct broadcast satellite systems is the subject of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released by the FCC just before Christmas, notice of which was published in the Federal Register today, setting the… Continue Reading

Beware of the Trademark and Copyright Issues in Ads and Promotions Involving the Super Bowl

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations
With the college football champion now decided, and the NFL league championships this coming weekend to decide this year’s Super Bowl teams, it’s that time when we post our warning about being careful with using the phrase “Super Bowl” in your promotions and commercials.  Both copyright and trademark issues can arise at Super Bowl time. … Continue Reading

$50,000 Penalty for LMA Operations – No Payments in Excess of Expenses for Noncommercial Licensees, and a Reminder that Licensee Must Remain in Control

Posted in FCC Fines, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
A consent decree, requiring $50,000 payment to the FCC by the licensee and programmer of a noncommercial radio station, demonstrates two potential problem areas for broadcasters involved in LMA or Time Brokerage (TBA) arrangements.  First, for noncommercial licensees it makes clear that the programmer cannot be paying the licensee any more for the programming time… Continue Reading

Remember Children’s Television Compliance Obligations – The FCC Does Not Forget

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations, Television
With the obligation of television stations to file the quarterly Children’s Television Reports on FCC Form 398 by Monday (as the usual January 10 date is on a weekend) and the simultaneous requirement to place into their online public file documentation of compliance with the commercial limits in Children’s programming, it is worth reminding stations… Continue Reading

What Washington Has in Store for Broadcasters in 2015 – Part 1, What’s Up at the FCC

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Indecency, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Each year, at about this time, we pull out the crystal ball and make predictions of the issues affecting broadcasters that will likely bubble up to the top of the FCC’s agenda in the coming year.  While we try each year to throw in a mention of the issues that come to our mind, there… Continue Reading

A Broadcaster’s Regulatory Calendar for 2015, Plus Important Regulatory Deadlines for January Including Incentive Auction and Captioning Comments

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Internet Radio, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
A new year, and a new set of regulatory obligations and deadlines for broadcasters and others.  To help track many of the important deadlines for broadcasters in the new year, we have put together a Broadcaster’s Calendar of important regulatory dates for 2015, available here, which highlights many of the dates for the regulatory obligations… Continue Reading

FCC Sets Dates for Comments on Proposed Changes to Required Disclosures of Broadcast Contest Material Terms

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Television
We recently wrote about the proposed changes in the FCC’s rules about station-conducted contests, here.  The FCC has proposed that much of the required disclosure about the material terms of these contests be allowed to be conducted online, rather than having to be announced on-air often enough so that listeners to the station are likely… Continue Reading

Online Public File for Radio – and Satellite and Cable – Moves Closer to Reality – FCC Issues Formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The online public inspection file for radio is moving closer to reality at an unusually fast pace.  Yesterday, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking to expand the online public file requirements that now apply to broadcast TV stations to radio (see our summary of the obligations here, and a presentation that we… Continue Reading

FCC to Look at Program Producer Responsibility for Captioning of Video Programming – Likely Extension of New Rules on Captioning Quality

Posted in Digital Television, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC this week issued a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, suggesting that certain responsibilities for the captioning of video programming be reassigned from the Video Programming Distributor (the TV station or cable system) who has the direct contact with the viewer, to the producer of the programming as that is where the captioning… Continue Reading

A Week of Emergency Alert System Actions at the FCC – Fines Including One for $46,000 for EAS Tones in a Commercial, and Reviews of Best Practices for the System

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations
Perhaps Sunday’s anniversary of Pearl Harbor made the FCC want to make this week one which concentrated on emergency communications issues, or perhaps it is just a coincidence.  But the FCC has been active in the past 7 days dealing with emergency communications related items for broadcasters.  On Wednesday, it issued a consent decree by… Continue Reading

FCC Denies Closed Captioning Waiver for Church Service – Clarifying New Standards on “Economically Burdensome” Exceptions to Captioning Requirements

Posted in Digital Television, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
We are often asked by television broadcasters if specialty programming – particularly local programming, like a local church’s broadcast of its Sunday morning church service – is covered by the FCC’s closed captioning obligations.  In a decision released on Friday, the FCC staff denied the request of a church for an exemption from the rules… Continue Reading

TV Station Agrees to $115,000 FCC Fine for Not Identifying Sponsor of Program Promoting a Sale at Auto Dealership

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations
On Friday, the FCC released an Order and Consent Decree by which Journal Broadcasting agreed to pay a fine of $115,000 and to enter into a compliance program to settle complaints that it had not adequately identified that a program aired on its Las Vegas TV station was sponsored by a local car dealership.  According… Continue Reading

$35,000 FCC Fine for TV Station that Tapes Telephone Conversations for News Broadcast Without Prior Permission

Posted in FCC Fines, Privacy, Programming Regulations
In a Consent Decree released the day after Thanksgiving, the FCC agreed to accept a payment of a $35,000 penalty from a former television licensee for recording two telephone conversations for inclusion in a newscast, where the station called an outside party and recorded those conversations for inclusion in the newscast – before getting permission… Continue Reading

December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Renewals, EEO Reports and Noncommercial Biennial Ownership Reports in Some States; TV Ancillary and Supplementary Revenue Reports; As Well as LPTV Rulemaking Comments and Many Other Expected Actions

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, FCC Fines, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Internet Video, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
While we are in the Holiday season, the regulatory obligations faced by broadcasters don’t stop.  December brings a continuation of the TV renewal cycle, though we are nearing the end of that cycle.  Renewal applications for all TV, Class A and LPTV stations in the following states are due on December 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts,… Continue Reading