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.
- ViacomCBS and its subsidiary Pluto TV agreed to pay $3.5 million and enter into a consent decree with the FCC because Pluto failed to include captions in streamed programming that had previously been broadcast with captions on TV. The FCC’s investigation revealed that Pluto did not enable the delivery of captions provided by the programmer on numerous online platforms that carry Pluto TV, did not implement certain closed captioning functionalities, and did not make contact information for closed captioning complaints available to viewers. Under FCC rules, all nonexempt full-length video programming delivered over the internet must be closed captioned, if the programming had previously been shown on television in the U.S. with captions. (Order and Consent Decree)
- The FCC issued a Public Notice reminding broadcasters that a two-month biennial ownership report window opened Friday, October 1 and will stay open through Wednesday, December 1. All licensees of commercial and non-commercial full power television, Class A television, low power television, AM radio, and FM radio stations must file a report with ownership information current as of October 1. Filers can watch an online informational session hosted by FCC staff on October 5 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern that will explain the filing requirements.
- At its monthly open meeting this past week, the FCC started a proceeding looking at ways to make communications networks more reliable and resilient during emergencies. As part of this effort, the FCC asked for comments on whether it should require broadcast stations to report their operational status during an emergency to the FCC using its Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS). The use of DIRS by broadcasters is currently optional. The comment period will open after the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is published in the Federal Register.
- The FCC reviews the contents of stations’ online public files, especially as part of the license renewal process, and continues to fine TV stations for their failure to timely upload quarterly issues/program lists. In a decision released this week, an Alabama television station was fined $9,000 for uploading 5 lists more than one year late, 4 lists between one month and one year late, and 5 lists between one day and one month late, without providing an explanation for the late uploads. (Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture). Broadcasters should remember that their next quarterly issues/programs list should be uploaded to their online public files by October 10.
- The FCC adopted rules that formalize and standardize the national security and law enforcement questions to be answered by broadcast applicants seeking permission for foreign ownership in excess of 25%. The questions will be posted on the FCC website to give applicants advance notice of the information that they must submit. (Report and Order)