Here are some of the regulatory and legal actions and developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • Information on the FY 2020 regulatory fee process continues to roll out, in advance of the 11:59 p.m. EDT September 25 deadline to pay fees or to request a waiver. The Media Bureau released a fact sheet to answer questions and to help stations figure out how much they owe.  When you log-in to the fee filer, the amount owed is already pre-entered, so you only need to enter payment information.  Should you wish to double-check the amount shown in the filer, the Bureau provides a chart for radio stations that shows payment amounts based on station class type and population served.  Television licensees can consult Appendix G of the FY 2020 Fees Report and Order.  See our blog post for more information.  (What You Owe – Media Services Licensees Fact Sheet)
  • The FCC released the agenda for its September 30 Open Meeting and drafts of the items to be considered at that meeting. There are no items on the agenda that would change broadcasters’ obligations, though as part of its multi-year Media Modernization efforts, the FCC will consider changes to how cable systems must handle certain notifications to its customers of changes to rates, service, or channel position of stations that they carry.   Acknowledging that retransmission consent and program carriage negotiations can continue up until the moment a channel or program has to be pulled from the system, the FCC wants to change its rules to eliminate the 30-day notice required under current rules.  The new rule, if adopted, will allow cable systems to notify viewers “as soon as possible” about changes to channel lineups that occur due to retransmission consent or program carriage negotiations that fail within 30 days of the retransmission or program carriage contract ending.  (Report and Order)
  • Holders of FM translator construction permits awarded to AM stations in Auctions 99 and 100 that expire on or before June 30, 2021 have an opportunity to extend the permit’s expiration date by up to six months. The Media Bureau announced it will accept COVID-19-related requests for waiver of the expiration date. The request must specify how the pandemic has prevented the permit holder’s ability to complete construction and should be submitted no later than 15 days before the permit expires.  More details and waiver request instructions are available in the Public Notice.  (Public Notice)

Looking ahead to next week, Monday, September 14 is the deadline for parties with eligible earth stations involved in the C-Band transition to elect to receive a lump sum reimbursement payment, instead of reimbursement for their actual relocation costs.  For more on the lump sum reimbursement process and some of the issues to consider, see our blog post here.