Here are some of the regulatory 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.

  • On November 12, the notice was published in the Federal Register of the lifting of the filing freeze for certain television applications including those that seek modifications to increase a full-power TV or Class A station’s service area, requests for DTV channel changes and new DTV allotments, and requests for changes to communities of license. While the Federal Register notice said the lifting of the freeze was effective as of the date of publication, we understand that to be an error as the notice itself says that it is effective 15 days after publication.  Thus, the freeze should be lifted as of November 27. We wrote about the lifting of these freezes, here.  (Federal Register)
  • With the coming change in the administration, the president-elect’s allies in Congress sent a letter to the Chairman of the FCC demanding that the Chairman pause all work on controversial agency matters. The letter from House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) was sent to Chairman Pai on November 10 and was echoed by public statements from Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks.  (Pallone-Doyle Letter)  (Rosenworcel Statement)  (Starks Statement)
  • FCC Commissioner nominee Nathan Simington visited the Senate Commerce Committee this week to answer questions from senators in his bid to become the next Republican Commissioner. Several questions focused on Simington’s role in drafting NTIA’s Section 230 petition for rulemaking (read about Simington and Section 230 here and here).  Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) announced that he would hold up Simington’s nomination until the nominee pledges to recuse himself from the FCC’s work on Section 230.
  • Two Louisiana FM stations filed their applications for license renewal about six months after their December 2, 2019 due date and now face $3,000 fines. These actions are another reminder that you need to pay attention to the license renewal application filing deadlines and be sure your application is filed with the FCC on or before the date your application is due.  Radio stations in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota and TV stations in Alabama and Georgia should be reviewing their public files and getting their license renewal applications ready to submit by December 1, 2020.  We previewed this December 1 obligation, here.  (KLSP(FM) proposed file) (KVDP(FM) proposed fine)

Looking ahead to next week, there are three dates to watch on your calendar.  First, briefs are due to the Supreme Court by November 16 in the FCC v. Prometheus Radio Project case reviewing an appeals court reversal of the Commission’s 2017 decision revising its ownership rules (in advance of oral arguments and a decision in 2021).  Second, the FCC will hold its monthly Open Meeting on Tuesday, November 18, where the only media-related item on the agenda is a proposal to change the procedures for filing program carriage complaints against multichannel video providers.  We took a quick look at this, here.  We should also get a preview on November 18 of the agenda items up for consideration at the December 10 Open Meeting.  Third, the FCC moves closer to decommissioning its CDBS filing database when assignment and transfer applications are migrated to the newer LMS database.  Specifically, Forms 314, 315, 316, and 345 must be completed and filed through LMS starting November 18.  See our post, here, about the Public Notice announcing these changes.