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.
- Global Music Rights (GMR) has offered commercial radio stations an extension of their interim license for the public performance of musical compositions by the songwriters that it represents. The extension through January comes at a price – a 20% increase in the royalty fees. GMR offers these interim licenses while its antitrust litigation with the Radio Music License Committee is pending, where RMLC seeks to put checks on GMR’s right to unilaterally set prices. We covered the issues broadcasters should consider in weighing this extension on our blog, here.
- With the July 13 deadline for analog low-power TV and TV translator stations to transition to digital or cease operations and for the expiration of many construction permits for new digital LPTV stations granted prior to the TV Incentive Auction, the FCC reminded broadcasters subject to the deadline that their opportunity to file for a one-time extension of not more than 180 days ends on March 15. We covered the FCC’s Public Notice on this issue in more detail, including a discussion of the as yet unresolved issue of “Franken FMs” (radio services on 87.7 FM provided by analog LPTVs on Channel 6), here. (Public Notice)
- By March 15, comments are due on the minimum bid amounts and procedures proposed for Auction 109, which will auction construction permits for 136 new FM stations and 4 AMs. Reply comments are due by March 22 and bidding is scheduled to begin July 27. (Federal Register)
- Two Florida LPFM stations received Notices of Violation for transmissions on frequencies other than as permitted by their license. Stations must exercise care to ensure that their transmission facilities do not produce spurious emissions outside their licensed frequencies. These emissions can cause interference to other broadcasters and to non-broadcast radio communications (one of the stations investigated here was reviewed because of a complaint from the FAA). Read more about this on our blog, here. (Orlando Notice of Violation) (Miami Notice of Violation)
- A handful of Republican congressmen have introduced a bill to prevent the FCC from reinstating the Fairness Doctrine, which the FCC found unconstitutional in 1987. We wrote, here, about what the Fairness Doctrine was and why, even absent congressional action barring its reintroduction, it is unlikely to make a comeback. (R.1409)
- Following last fall’s order designed to bring more structure and transparency to the Executive Branch (Team Telecom) review of proposals for foreign ownership of communications facilities including broadcast stations, the FCC has set the dates by which interested parties can comment on the standardized questions applicants will be asked, including national security and law enforcement questions. Comments are due by April 2 and reply comments are due by April 19. (Federal Register)