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.
- On Friday, the FCC released its decision setting 2021 annual regulatory fees. In a win for broadcasters, the NAB and other broadcast groups convinced the FCC to lower the broadcast fees that the FCC had initially proposed, avoiding a proposed significant increase in the fees on radio. As was the case last year, stations that can show that COVID significantly affected their finances may qualify to pay their fees over time, rather than in the lump sum that will be due before October 1. The FCC will release a Public Notice in the next few days announcing the window during which broadcasters are to pay their fees. (Report and Order)
- The FCC’s Media Bureau continues to scrutinize television license renewals. This week, the Bureau announced that a South Carolina TV station faces a $3,000 fine for uploading four quarterly issues/programs lists more than one year late and three lists between one month and one year late. The violations were discovered during the FCC staff’s review of the stations’ public files for license renewal. (Notice of Apparently Liability for Forfeiture) It also admonished a Mississippi TV station for uploading two lists between one month and one year late, and eight lists between one day and one month late. (Letter)
- In our weekly update last week, we noted a proposed $3500 fine on a broadcaster who had completed construction of a new FM translator and commenced its operations, but forgot to timely file a license application informing the FCC of the completion of construction in accordance with the translator’s construction permit. Showing that this fine is now a standard in similar cases, the FCC issued four more decisions this week imposing similar penalties (here, here, here and here). These decisions remind broadcasters who are building new technical facilities authorized by an FCC construction permit to file a license application before the construction deadline showing that they have timely constructed the station as authorized by their permit.
- Flo & Eddie, leaders of the 1960s band the Turtles, were again rejected—this time by a federal appeals court in California—in their latest attempt to get a court to recognize a right to receive royalties for the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings. The case had implications for broadcasters, as a contrary decision could have recognized a state-based performance royalty that could have applied to over-the-air radio and to anyone else who played these oldies in public in California. (Opinion). Watch for an article with more details on this decision later this week on our Broadcast Law Blog.
- Visit the Broadcast Law Blog on Monday afternoon for our monthly feature on important September regulatory dates and deadlines for broadcasters.