Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- According to press reports, broadcasters should pencil in August 11, 2021 on their calendars for the next national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). Following the test, broadcasters will need to report to the FCC how their EAS equipment functioned and what, if any, problems were encountered relaying the test message. This information will be used by the FCC in a report on the readiness of EAS in the event of an activation.
- The FCC posted an online tutorial for parties interested in participating in Auction 109, the upcoming auction of 136 FM construction permits and 4 AM construction permits which will allow winning bidders to construct new radio stations. The tutorial is available for on-demand viewing on the “Education” tab of the Auction 109 website at http://www.fcc.gov/auction/109. The window to apply for a construction permit is from 12:00 p.m. Eastern on April 28 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern on May 11. We wrote about the auction, here.
- Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-CA) wrote to Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel requesting that the agency look at the reported increase in complaints tied to the loudness of TV commercials and, if necessary, take enforcement action under the CALM Act. The letter cites press reports of thousands of consumer complaints to the FCC which never resulted in any enforcement action. Eshoo sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over the FCC, so stations should review CALM Act compliance as this may be an area of FCC review in coming months. (Eshoo Letter)
- We reminded broadcasters that, even outside of political windows, they must upload appropriate information to the political files folder in their FCC-hosted online public inspection file reporting on ads that run on their stations addressing controversial issues of public importance. (Broadcast Law Blog article).
Looking ahead to next week, earth stations operating in the C-Band that have been reported as no longer operational or that have not responded to communications from the C-Band Relocation Coordinator must act by April 19 and file with the FCC confirming their continuing operational status or their authorizations will be deleted from the FCC’s database and no longer protected. While this deadline has been the subject of many trade press reports and some widely distributed memos from law firms, it actually affects only a handful of broadcasters. Earth station operators that have filed for lump sum reimbursement or have otherwise been in contact with the Relocation Coordinator should not appear on the lists and have no April 19 filing obligation. We posted the lists and wrote more, here, about the deadline.
Also next week, the FCC will hold its required monthly Open Meeting. Broadcasters will be watching two agenda items in particular: the vote to adopt new rules for identification of programming that is sponsored by a foreign governmental entity and the vote to adopt a ten-application limit in the upcoming noncommercial, reserved band FM construction permit filing window. We wrote briefly about these items, here.