July brings the obligation for each full-power broadcaster to add a new Quarterly Issues Programs List to their online public inspection file. These reports, summarizing the issues facing each station’s community of license in the prior three months and the programs broadcast by the station to address those issues, must be added to the public file by July 10. As we wrote here, these reports are very important – as they are the only documents legally required by the FCC to show how a station served the public interest. With the online file, these reports can be reviewed by anyone with an Internet connection at any time, which could be particularly concerning for any station that does not meet the filing deadline, especially with license renewals beginning again next year.
Also to be filed with the FCC by July 10, by full-power and Class A TV stations, are Quarterly Children’s Television Reports. While the FCC announced last week that it will be considering a rulemaking proposal at its July meeting to potentially change the rules (see its proposed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here), for now the requirements remain in place obligating each station to broadcast 3 weekly hours of programming designed to meet the educational and informational needs of children for each free program stream transmitted by the station. Also, certifications need to be included in each station’s online public file demonstrating that the station has complied with the rules limiting the amount of commercialization during children’s television programs.
In addition to considering the Children’s Television Rules at its July 12th meeting, the FCC will also be looking at how it can modify its EAS system to avoid the kinds of erroneous emergency messages that have been transmitted in recent months – most notably the alert for a missile attack on Hawaii a few months ago. The FCC will adopt certain changes immediately, as well as advancing additional proposals for rule changes. The draft FCC order on EAS changes is available here out here.
The FCC is also planning to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (draft here) considering the potential for repurposing for wireless users some or all of the C Band, currently used by broadcasters for earth stations to receive satellite-delivered programming. The FCC had given broadcasters the opportunity until July18 to register the earth stations that were operating in that band as of April 19, 2018 so that the FCC could take these existing operations into account if a repurposing proposal is ultimately adopted. The FCC has now extended broadcaster’s registration deadline to October 17 (see extension order here). Earth stations not registered by that deadline will not be protected or entitled to any consideration if repurposing of the band takes place.
Due on July 20th are comments on a petition to change the interference standards that apply to LPFM stations (proposing a change from the current mileage separation requirements to a system like FM translators, based on interference considerations) and to allow some of those stations to operate with higher power. While this is only a preliminary petition asking the FCC to put out a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the issue, preliminary comments on these issues may be important in guiding the FCC on whether to proceed with a further rulemaking. The FCC notice of the acceptance of that rulemaking proposal is here.
Comments on the FCC’s proposal for changing the methodology for addressing complaints of interference from translators to full-power FM stations were due on July 6 (see our articles here and here). Earlier this week, the FCC granted a request for a one-month extension of those comments. They are now due August 6. We are also expecting a Federal Register notice soon setting comment dates in the FCC’s notice of inquiry as to whether it should create a new C4 class of FM stations (see our summary here).
So, even in the summer doldrums, there are a number of FCC proceedings that are ongoing. As we always warn, these are but some of the issues – always check with your own counsel for other dates of relevance to your station.