Here are some of the regulatory developments from 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.
- The National Association of Broadcasters this week announced that its CEO, Gordon Smith, will be stepping down at the end of the year to be replaced by COO, and former head of Government Relations at the NAB, Curtis LeGeyt. We wrote here about some of the many legal and policy issues likely to be facing the NAB in the coming years.
- The FCC continues to scrutinize public file compliance in connection with the filing of a license renewal application. After several noncommercial stations entered into consent decrees over non-compliance, commercial stations have started to receive consent decrees, as well. In the latest example, a Tennessee station had not filed an ownership report since 2012 and had not uploaded any quarterly issues/programs lists to its public file. The consent decree comes with the requirements to name a compliance officer, adopt a written plan that includes a compliance manual and mandatory training for employees, quickly report future public file violations to the FCC when they are discovered, and file periodic compliance reports with the Commission. (Consent Decree) As all full-power stations, commercial and noncommercial, should have uploaded Quarterly Issues Programs Lists to their online public file by April 10, this reminder that the FCC is watching stations’ public files is very timely.
- The FCC reminded full-power TV stations, Class A TV stations, LPTV and TV translator stations, FM radio stations, and multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) that filing deadlines begin in six months for the submission of all remaining invoices for reimbursement for the costs they incurred from the repacking of the TV band following the Incentive Auction. Full-power TV and Class A TV stations that were assigned to repack phases 1-5 have a final invoice submission deadline of October 8, 2021. Full-power TV and Class A stations assigned to repack phases 6-10 have a deadline of March 22, 2022. Low power TV stations, TV translators, FM radio stations, and MVPDs have a filing deadline of September 5, 2022. See the Public Notice for more details on the close-out procedures. We wrote more about this, here.
- The FCC issued a Public Notice asking interested parties for comment on whether updates are necessary for the rules that are required to implement the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA). The CVAA is responsible for such agency rules as audio description, accessible emergency information, and closed captioning of video delivered over Internet Protocol. Comments are due by May 24 and reply comments are due by June 21. (Public Notice)
Looking ahead to next week, the FCC by Wednesday, April 14 will post an online tutorial to help parties interested in participating in Auction 109, the upcoming auction of 136 FM construction permits and 4 AM construction permits that we wrote about here. The tutorial will provide information about all aspects of the upcoming auction for the opportunity to construct new radio stations. There will also be a way to ask FCC staff questions about the auction. Once posted, the tutorial will be accessible on the “Education” tab of the Auction 109 website at http://www.fcc.gov/auction/109 for on-demand viewing.