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Category Archives: Public Interest Obligations/Localism

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Modernization of Media Regulation – What Rule Changes Should Broadcasters be Requesting?

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
It is not every year that the FCC seriously asks broadcasters for suggestions as to what rules it should abolish or modify, but that is exactly what the FCC is doing in its Modernization of Media Regulation proceeding (about which we wrote here and here). Comments due the week after next, on July 5, and… Continue Reading

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

Comments on FCC Proposal to Abolish Broadcast Main Studio Rule Due July 3

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
In today’s Federal Register, the FCC has given notice of its proposal to abolish the main studio rule.  That notice, here, sets the date for comments on this proposal as July 3.  Reply comments are due two weeks later on July 17.  We wrote about the FCC’s proposal and the questions being asked in this… Continue Reading

FCC Officially Starts Proceedings to Abolish Main Studio Rule and Review All Other Broadcast Rules

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
As expected, at its monthly open meeting yesterday, the FCC started two proceedings of particular importance to broadcasters. The first looks at the abolition of the main studio rules. The second asks for comments on all of the other rules affecting broadcasters and other media companies to see which are ripe for appeal. For the… Continue Reading

May Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Incentive Auction, ATSC 3.0 and Broadcast Deregulation

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, Digital Television, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
May is one of the few months without the normal list of quarterly filings and EEO public file reports.  But, just because there are none of these regular filings due, that does not mean that the month will be a quiet one for broadcasters on the regulatory front.  In fact, far from it.  There are… Continue Reading

Making Good on Deregulation – FCC Proposes to Eliminate Main Studio Rules and Review All Other Broadcast Regulatory Requirements

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
In his speech at the NAB Convention (available here), Chairman Pai promised to pursue a broadcast regulatory regime that made sense in today’s competitive media environment. He promised to move quickly to eliminate a number of the unnecessary broadcast rules, and specifically to repeal the main studio rule (see our articles here and here about… Continue Reading

FCC Changes in Rules on Computation of Foreign Ownership of Broadcast Stations Now Effective

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Last year, the FCC made some modifications in its assessment of foreign ownership of companies with broadcast interests, relaxing some of their compliance rules to take account of the realities of the current public stock trading marketplace – realities that, using the FCC’s old policies, made determinations of the level of foreign ownership in any… Continue Reading

Plan Your April Fools’ Day On-Air Pranks with the FCC in Mind

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
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

April Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, Incentive Auction Closing Notice, AM Translator Site Relocation Relaxation Effective Date

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
April has many important dates for broadcasters – both radio and TV.  This includes both regular regulatory obligations and dates unique to this April for both radio and TV – including the release of the FCC’s Closing Notice for the TV incentive auction and the effective date for the new rules liberalizing the location of… Continue Reading

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