Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Public Interest Obligations/Localism

Subscribe to Public Interest Obligations/Localism RSS Feed

FCC Approves For the First Time 100% Foreign Ownership of US Broadcast Stations

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, Multiple Ownership Rules, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC yesterday released its first decision approving 100% foreign ownership of a group of US broadcast stations. This comes after significant relaxation of the FCC’s interpretation of the foreign ownership limits which, less than 4 years ago, had been interpreted to effectively prohibit foreign ownership of more than 25% of a company controlling broadcast licensees (see… 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

First Chance for New FCC to Deregulate – Abolition of Requirement to Maintain Public File of Letters from the Public About Broadcast Station Operations on January 31 Tentative Agenda

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, General FCC, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC yesterday released its tentative agenda for its January meeting, to be held on January 31. This will be the first meeting of the post-Chairman Wheeler era, and the two Republican commissioners will be in the majority for the first time in 8 years. There is a single item on the tentative agenda –… Continue Reading

FCC Approves Up to 49% Foreign Ownership of Univision – What Guidance is Provided to Potential Foreign Investors in US Broadcast Stations?

Posted in General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In a decision released yesterday, the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling permitting certain identified foreign companies and individuals to own up to 40% of the voting interests in Univision, and allowed aggregate foreign ownership of up to 49% of the equity of the company. This decision noted that it was based not on the new… Continue Reading

January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, Ownership and EEO Comments, Copyright Issues and More

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
Here we are at the start of a new year, and right away we have numerous regulatory deadlines for broadcasters. By the 10th of the month, all broadcast stations need to have placed in their public inspection files (online for TV and for those radio stations that have already converted to the online public file,… 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

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

Emergency Communications Updates: FCC Hotline for Hurricane Matthew, Reminder on Accessibility of Emergency Warnings, and Possible Extension for Audio Conversion of Certain Visual Emergency Information

Posted in Emergency Communications, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
With the approach of Hurricane Matthew to the coast of the southeast United States, emergency communications is a high priority for all media outlets. Emergency communications have also been a hot issue at the FCC – with 3 notices in the last week dealing with this important subject. One notice was to provide emergency contact… 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

Preparing for the FCC’s Soon to be Released Decision on Changes to its Multiple Ownership Rules

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, Multiple Ownership Rules, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
While the trade press has been full of reports that the FCC has voted on an order addressing the issues raised in its Quadrennial Review of its multiple ownership rules, and that the decision largely left those rules unchanged (including the broad ban on the cross-ownership of daily newspapers and broadcast stations), no final decision… 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

FCC Seeks Comment on Another Request for Foreign Ownership of Broadcast Stations Above 25%

Posted in General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Recently, we wrote about two cases seeking declaratory rulings from the FCC that non-US ownership of companies owning broadcast stations should be permitted even though that ownership would exceed the 25% standard that had been, until that last few years, the limit on such ownership. Last week, the FCC announced the filing of another such… 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

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

The Online Public Inspection File– A Presentation on the Requirements for Radio, and an FCC Workshop for All Users on Procedures for Using the New System

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
The online public inspection file for radio stations becomes a reality for most Top 50 market stations on June 24. Yesterday, I conducted a webinar for members of 19 state broadcast associations, discussing the process for the transition to the online public file. I also outlined obligations for maintaining the public file and the required… Continue Reading

FCC Proposes to Eliminate Public File Obligations – No More Letters from the Public for Broadcasters, No Cable Headend Information for Cable Systems?

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, General FCC, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
At its open meeting earlier this week, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to the public file rules for both broadcasters and cable systems. For commercial broadcasters, the FCC proposed to eliminate the requirement that they include in their public file copies of letters and emails to the station concerning station… Continue Reading

Fine for Missing Quarterly Issues Programs List Not Excused by Intervening Transfer of Control of TV Station – Buy Assets Not Stock to Avoid Assuming Prior Owner’s FCC Liabilities

Posted in Assignments and Transfers, FCC Fines, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In an FCC decision fining a TV station $10,000 for failing to include 15 Quarterly Issues Programs lists in its public inspection file, the FCC refused to reduce the proposed liability based on an intervening “long-form” transfer of control followed by a short-form assignment of license of the station. Thus, even though the station was… Continue Reading

FCC Announces June 24 Effective Date for Radio Online Public Inspection File and New System for TV Stations Online File, Plus a Reminder to Upload JSAs

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
The FCC today issued a Public Notice that the obligation will begin on June 24 to start uploading documents to the online public file for radio stations in the Top 50 markets .   For Top 50 market commercial radio stations that are part of employment units with 5 or more full-time employees, the June 24… Continue Reading

FCC To Consider Abolition of Requirement that Broadcasters Maintain Letters From the Public in their Public Files – Moving Toward the End of the Physical Public File?

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, General FCC, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Yesterday, the FCC announced its agenda for its May open meeting to be held on May 25. Among the items on the agenda is a proposal to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to abolish the obligation that broadcasters maintain in their public files copies of letters and emails from the general public about… 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