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.
- The FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that sets out its tentative plan for assessing broadcast regulatory fees to be collected before October 1 of this year to pay for FCC operations for the current fiscal year. The notice proposes sticking with last year’s decision to assess television fees based on the population served by a station. The proposed fees to be paid by each TV station are included in an Appendix to the Notice. While proposing to use these unique fees for each station for this year, the FCC proposes for next year to group TV station fees within tiers, and it seeks comments on the tiers to be used. While the total fees to be paid this by the radio industry are the same as last year, each station is proposed to pay more, apparently based on the FCC’s estimates that there will be fewer total stations paying fees. The FCC also asks if it should again provide some relief to companies that, because of COVID-related financial difficulties, cannot pay their fees or cannot pay them on time. Comments on the FCC’s proposal are due by June 3 and reply comments are due by June 18. (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)
- As we noted a few weeks ago, FEMA has now officially chosen August 11, 2021 as the date for the next national EAS test (with August 25 as a backup date). The test will originate through Primary Entry Point facilities (i.e., principally through broadcast transmissions) rather than through internet dissemination via the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) to test how well alerts are distributed if internet delivery is unavailable. (FEMA Letter)
- The C-band Relocation Payment Clearinghouse (RPC) posted its Draft C-band Handbook and will accept comments on the draft before 6:00 p.m. Eastern on May 14. The handbook covers, among other things, how funds will be distributed from the money received from entities that purchased C-band spectrum rights to those entities, like broadcasters, eligible for reimbursement for clearing the spectrum. In the past week or two, many broadcasters who are eligible for reimbursement, either through lump-sum payments or through the actual reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses, have heard directly from the companies coordinating the reimbursement process asking questions about the details for such reimbursement. Stations should be sure to quickly respond to these inquiries to avoid delays or other problems with those payments.