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Category Archives: Public Interest Obligations/Localism

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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

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

Online Public Inspection File for Radio Still in the Future – Practical Impact Still a Few Months Away

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
In the last day or two, some broadcast trade press reports may have given the impression that the FCC’s new online public file rules for radio may now be “effective,” suggesting that Top 50 market stations with 5 or more full-time employees need to start uploading their new political documents into the file (the first… 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

FCC Releases Order on Online Public Inspection File – Answering Questions about Compliance with Radio’s New Obligations

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
Last week, we wrote about the FCC’s decision to require that radio stations move their public inspection files online.  Commercial stations with 5 or more full-time employees that are located in Top 50 markets need to make the transition to the online file later this year once the FCC gets its new rules approved by… Continue Reading

FCC Adopts Online Public File Requirements for Radio, Satellite and Cable – To be Effective for Large Market Radio Later This Year

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, FM Radio, General FCC, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
The FCC today adopted rules to require that the public inspection files of radio stations (and of cable television systems and operators of satellite radio and television companies) to put their public inspection files online.  While, thus far, the FCC has only released a public notice summarizing its decision and not the full text explaining… Continue Reading

What Washington Has in Store for Broadcasters in 2016 – Looking at the Legal Issues that the FCC Will Be Considering in the New Year

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Indecency, Internet Video, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
It’s that time of the year when we need to dust off the crystal ball and make predictions about the legal issues that will impact the business of broadcasters in 2016.  While we try to look ahead to identify the issues that are on the agenda of the FCC and other government agencies, there are… Continue Reading

Confirmed – The FCC Will Act to Require Online Public File for Radio, Satellite and Cable This Month

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Last week, we noted that an order acting on the FCC’s proposal to adopt a requirement for an online public file for radio, cable and satellite had been prepared and was circulating among the FCC commissioners for their review.  Yesterday, in a post on the FCC’s blog, the FCC Chairman confirmed that the decision would… Continue Reading

Will the Proposal for an Online Public File for Radio and Cable and Satellite TV Be Adopted Soon?

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, FM Radio, General FCC, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
The FCC appears poised to decide what to do with its proposals for an online public inspection file for radio stations, and for cable and satellite TV systems. The FCC’s list of “Items on Circulation” (orders that have been written and are being considered for approval by the FCC Commissioners) indicates that the decision has… Continue Reading

December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Ownership and EEO Reports, Retransmission Consent and Foreign Ownership Rulemaking Comments, Incentive Auction and Accessibility Obligations

Posted in Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Internet Video, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
December is one of those months when all commercial broadcasters have at least one FCC deadline, and there are also many other filing dates of which many broadcasters need to take note.  For all commercial broadcasters, Biennial Ownership Reports are due on December 2.  Hopefully, most broadcasters have already completed this filing obligation, as FCC… 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