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.
- President Joe Biden made official his permanent FCC Chair – selecting Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to fill that position. He also re-nominated her for another five-year term, as her current term on the FCC ends at the end of this year. The President also nominated Gigi Sohn, a former FCC senior staffer under Chairman Tom Wheeler, to be the fifth Commissioner and third Democrat. Both nominations must be approved by the Senate before Congress adjourns at the end of the year, or the nominees will need to be re-nominated. (White House Release)
- The FCC released an advance text of a proposal that would change how FM and LPFM license applicants verify directional antenna patterns, using computer modeling rather than real-world testing. This proposal will be considered by the Commission at its next monthly open meeting on November 18. Under current rules, FM and LPFM applications must provide real world measurements using either a full-size mockup or scale model of the antenna and supporting structures to measure the pattern generated. The proposed rule changes would put FM and LPFM applicants on equal footing with their AM radio and television counterparts, which can already use computer modeling to verify directional antenna patterns. (Draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)
- The C-Band Relocation Payment Clearinghouse (RPC), which is responsible for the processing of claims for reimbursement and lump sum payments associated with the C-band relocation, has begun to pay claims filed by earth station operators. In a press release, RPC noted that some entities potentially eligible for reimbursement or lump sum payment have not yet filed claims and urged these entities to visit cbandrpc.com/resources to set-up an account and file their claim. (Press Release)
- The decision of the Copyright Royalty Board raising the royalties for 2021-2025 to be paid to SoundExchange by webcasters for the digital transmission of sound recordings was published in the Federal Register. (Federal Register publication). The notice makes clear that the rates are now effective, and webcasters need to start paying at the new rates. Participants in the proceeding have 30 days to decide if they will appeal the CRB decision to the US Court of Appeals. We wrote more about this decision here. Look for more on this action later this week on our Broadcast Law Blog.
- Locast, the service that had been retransmitting local TV signals over the internet, will pay the big broadcast networks $32 million to settle copyright infringement claims tied to the service’s retransmission of television programming without consent. The service has now been terminated. We wrote more about some of the issues in the case, here. (Consent Judgment)
- In other confirmation news, Jonathan Kanter, President Biden’s choice to lead the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee. The division examines transactions and mergers that could affect competition in the marketplace (including in the broadcast industry) and provides opinions on broadcast marketplace competition. The division also oversees the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. Kanter’s nomination will be considered by the full Senate at a later date. (Committee Action)