There have been many Washington developments for broadcasters in the last week – and while it was all occurring, our Blog was undergoing a makeover, so some of the articles that we published in the last week may have been missed. Perhaps the biggest news was the confirmation and swearing in of the new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler. Last week, we wrote this article setting out the many legal issues of relevance to broadcasters that will be facing the new Chair. Among the first issues that will be dealt with is the modification of the FCC’s limits on the foreign ownership of broadcast stations, which is scheduled for consideration by the FCC at their open meeting next Thursday. We wrote about the issues in that proceeding here.
One of the last issues considered by Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn was the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the revitalization of the AM radio band. We summarized the issues set out in that proceeding, and wrote in more detail about the proposal likely to have the biggest impact on AM broadcasters – a window for AM stations to seek FM translators. That article also discussed how the FCC has seemingly decided to pull back from Mattoon waivers as part of that proceeding, and in a separate decision where the FCC decided that Mattoon waivers could not be used if the primary station is an FM. We’ll write more about the rest of the AM revitalization proposals soon. And, related to translators, we wrote about the extension of the last day for filing applications in the LPFM filing window to next week.
As last week was Halloween, and also the 75th Anniversary of the broadcast of Orson Welles War of the Worlds, we wrote about the changing views on broadcast hoaxes, and what the FCC would do if the program was broadcast today. Speaking of emergency broadcasts, the FCC yesterday issued a number of notices on fake emergency broadcasts. We’ll write more about that issue shortly.
Speaking of excitement, one FCC issue that we did not get to cover last week was the FCC’s request for comments on revisions to the CALM Act rules. CALM Act compliance to regulate loud commercials, as we wrote here, is based on adherence to certain industry standards. The standards body has revised those standards, and the FCC asks for comments on how it should amend its rules to take these changes into account.
On a few more personal notes, I should also mention that our law firm was just named the Communications Law Firm of the Year by US News/Best Lawyers. See the press release here. And our broadcast practice recently added a new lawyer fresh from the FCC, Kelly Donahue, formerly Special Counsel in the Office of the Chief of the Enforcement Bureau at the FCC and before that an Assistant Chief in the Audio Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau. She joined us last week to work on broadcasting and digital media legal issues. See our press release here.
Many things happened while our Blog was undergoing its facelift. So catch up on these articles that we posted that might not have made it to you while our systems were in transition, and look for new articles on many other legal issues of importance to broadcasters and digital media companies very soon.