The FCC announced two actions yesterday providing broadcasters targeted relief during the heart of this pandemic. In a Public Notice released yesterday, the FCC announced that it will waive its rules to allow the preemption of children’s educational and informational programs during the month of April to allow TV stations to air live or near-live coverage of community events, including religious services. The Notice seemed to be particularly geared to allow stations to broadcast Easter and Passover services in the coming days. In this time of social distancing, the FCC said that this programming would benefit the public interest by providing the opportunity for people to experience religious services and other events without endangering the public by attendance at such events. The community-events programs covered by this exception needs to be live or same-day taped coverage of local events. This limited waiver applies only for the month of April.
The FCC released another Public Notice yesterday, relieving radio stations in Ohio and Michigan of the obligation to run their license renewal pre-filing announcements. The FCC wanted to relieve the administrative burden on stations as well as to clear more time for commercials or COVID-related PSAs. Radio stations in these states do need not run the pre-filing announcements now scheduled for April 16, May 1 and May 16. The FCC notes, however, that stations do still need to run the post-filing renewal announcements that are scheduled to begin on June 1. This ruling at this point applies only to stations in the June 1 filing window and has not been extended to any subsequent window. These two actions by the FCC add to previous actions we cataloged here to try to make the regulatory burdens on broadcasters at least somewhat lighter during the current trying time.