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 Copyright Office initiated a study of the rights of publishers, to explore ways to assist local journalism. The notice of inquiry seeks comments on the protections afforded to publishers under Copyright law and whether these protections should expand to shield publishers from the dilution of their product by digital services. The study asks for comments on the rights of news aggregators and whether there should be additional limits on their distribution of information about stories that publishers originate. In addition, the study asks whether there should be more protections for “hot news,” protecting the facts contained in such stories instead of just protecting the way those facts are expressed. Ideas for reimbursing publishers for the use of their content by digital platforms, similar to laws recently adopted in Australia and in parts of Europe, are also part of the inquiry (see our article here for more on this idea). Comments on notice of inquiry are due November 26, 2021 (Notice of Inquiry). This study could lead to more protections for the news content of broadcasters, but also limit their ability to distribute content that originates with others. Watch for more on this proceeding in our Broadcast Law Blog this week.
- The FCC updated the list of applicants eligible to participate in Auction 111, an upcoming closed auction of LPTV and TV translator construction permits. The applicants who can participate in the auction submitted mutually exclusive applications either during a 2009 filing window for new LPTV stations or in a 2018 window for stations displaced by the Incentive Auction. Short-form applications by auction participants are due between November 1 and November 9, 2021 and bidding begins February 23, 2022. See the updated list of the construction permits available and eligible participants, here. (Public Notice)
- The FCC entered into a consent decree with a North Dakota noncommercial FM station over its failure to comply with the public file rules and its failure to file biennial ownership reports since 2014. As the biennial ownership report filing window is currently open through December 1, stations should make sure their reports are completed and filed on time, especially as the FCC is scrutinizing stations’ compliance with its rules during the license renewal process. (Consent Decree)