Last week, we started this feature of Here are some of the Washington actions of importance to broadcasters – at the FCC and elsewhere – which occurred in the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how this may affect your operations.
- The comment period ended in the FCC’s State of the Communications Marketplace Report proceeding. The FCC sought comment on the report to inform its assessment of the communications marketplace that it must deliver to Congress. In addition to the video and audio marketplaces, the report looked at the wireless, broadband, wired telephone, and satellite marketplaces. Reply comments are due by May 28. (Report)
- The FCC Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Violation to a Maryland AM station for violating the operating hours authorized by its license. In this case, the station was authorized for daytime operation only (average monthly local sunrise time to average monthly local sunset time) and was observed operating long past 5:15 p.m., which was the average sunset time for the station’s service area in January 2019. Notices of Violation are issued directly by Enforcement Bureau field agents and require a written response. This serves as a good reminder to stations to abide by operating hours authorized by their license. (Notice of Violation)
- In response to a January letter from FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly regarding payola practices, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and Universal Music Group submitted written responses that the Commissioner posted to his Twitter feed (Universal’s response will be posted when certain confidential information can be redacted). The record companies said there is nothing to support the allegations of payola and that any pay-to-play arrangements between the companies and radio stations are given the necessary on-air sponsorship identification. We wrote more about this at the Broadcast Law Blog. (@mikeofcc) (Broadcast Law Blog)
- We published to the Broadcast Law Blog our recurring monthly feature that highlights important regulatory dates for broadcasting during the upcoming month. May is a month where there are no regularly scheduled regulatory filings (e.g., no renewals, EEO reports, fee filings, or scheduled public file disclosures). Nevertheless, as always, there are a number of important regulatory dates—and changes in some dates—for May of which broadcasters should be aware. (Broadcast Law Blog)
- The FCC voted to reorganize the Media Bureau by eliminating the Engineering Division and moving the division’s staff and work to the Industry Analysis Division. The Commission believes this reorganization is a more effective use of available resources and should enhance the Bureau’s understanding and analysis of the media industry. (Order)
- In advance of the long-expected (and delayed by COVID-19) move of its Washington, DC headquarters, the FCC adopted a new official seal. Expect to see this new seal adorning FCC materials, websites, and, when it opens, the new headquarters. (Public Notice).
- The FCC Media Bureau settled by consent decree an investigation into the retransmission consent negotiating practices of television stations of a television operator who admitted to violating the good-faith negotiation rules, agreed to pay a $100,000 civil penalty, and adopted a compliance plan to be followed for three years. (Order and Consent Decree). This consent decree follows up on an FCC Media Bureau decision from last year which, though heavily redacted, provides more information on the good faith negotiation standards applicable to retransmission consent agreements.