Early this year, we provided our look into the crystal ball to see what was on the FCC’s agenda for broadcasters in the coming year. Yesterday, the FCC published in the Federal Register its own list – its Semiannual Regulatory Agenda – listing an inventory of the matters at the FCC awaiting Commission action. The
February Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Renewal Applications, EEO Reports, Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, Children’s Programming Reports, Copyright Fees for Webcasters, ETRS Form One, and More
There are normally a host of regulatory obligations at the beginning of February, but because of technical issues with the FCC’s online public file and LMS systems, many February 1 dates, as well as some January regulatory deadlines, have been extended to late February.
Due to technical problems that affected FCC filings throughout the month of January, the FCC last week issued a Public Notice extending the deadlines for all filings in the FCC’s LMS or online public file systems that were due in late January and early February. The new deadline for these filings is February 28, 2023. This new deadline applies to TV license renewal applications (including the associated Equal Employment Opportunity Report (Form 2100, Schedule 396)) for television stations, LPTV stations, TV translators and Class A stations in New York and New Jersey (which had been due February 1); Annual Children’s Programming Reports (which had been due on January 30); and EEO Public File Reports for broadcast employment units with 5 or more full-time employees in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma (reports that normally would have had to have been uploaded to a station’s public file by February 1). Quarterly Issues Programs lists for all broadcast stations had been due to be uploaded to the public file by January 10, but that date was initially extended until January 31, and the deadline has now been further extended to February 28 by last week’s Public Notice. Note that the Public Notice is broad, stating that any public file document due to be uploaded or any FCC application to be filed through LMS must be filed by February 28. Notwithstanding the extension, licensees should not wait until the last minute to upload documents, as the intermittent problems that have plagued the systems could persist for some time and make meeting even the extended deadline problematic, especially if you wait for the last minute to try to file. For more details about the extension and about other technical issues with the FCC’s filing systems, see the article we recently published on this subject.
February 28 is the deadline by which EAS participants must file their EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) Form One. Filing instructions are provided in the Public Notice issued by the FCC earlier this month (see also our articles here and here). All EAS Participants – including Low Power FM stations (LPFM), Class D non-commercial educational FM stations, and EAS Participants that are silent pursuant to a grant of Special Temporary Authority – are required to register and file in ETRS, with the following exceptions: Analog and digital low power television (LPTV) stations that operate as television broadcast translator stations, FM broadcast booster stations and FM translator stations that entirely rebroadcast the programming of other local FM broadcast stations, and analog and digital broadcast stations that operate as satellites or repeaters of a hub station (or common studio or control point if there is no hub station) and rebroadcast 100 percent of the programming of the hub station (or common studio or control point) are not required to register and file in ETRS. Carefully read the Public Notice and the form to make sure that all necessary information is properly uploaded.…
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The Last Two Weeks in Regulation for Broadcasters: December 17 to December 30, 2022
Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past two weeks, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- The FCC, as required by the Communications Act, released a Public Notice announcing the start of the 2022 Quadrennial
This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: November 26 to December 2 , 2022
In a very busy week, here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- The Federal Trade Commission and seven state Attorneys General announced a settlement with Google LLC and iHeart Media, Inc. over allegations that iHeart radio stations aired thousands of deceptive endorsements for Google Pixel 4 phones by radio personalities who had never used the phone. The FTC’s complaint alleges that in 2019, Google hired iHeart and 11 other radio broadcast companies to have their on-air personalities record and broadcast endorsements of the Pixel 4 phone, but did not provide the on-air personalities with the phone that they were endorsing. Google provided scripts for the on-air personalities to record, which included lines such as “It’s my favorite phone camera out there” and “I’ve been taking studio-like photos of everything,” despite these DJs never having used the phone. The deceptive endorsements aired over 28,000 times across ten major markets from October 2019 to March 2020. As part of the settlement, subject to approval by the courts, Google will pay approximately $9 million and iHeart will pay approximately $400,000 to the states that were part of the agreement. The settlement also imposes substantial paperwork and administrative burdens by requiring both companies to submit annual compliance reports for a period of years (10 years in the case of iHeart), and create and retain financial and other records (in the case of iHeart, the records must be created for a period of ten years and retained for five years).
- This case is a reminder that stations must ensure that their on-air talent have at least some familiarity with any product they endorse, particularly where on-air scripts suggest that they have actually used the product. Stations should not assume that talent know the relevant rules – they more likely will just read whatever is handed to them without understanding the potential legal risk for the station, which, as demonstrated in this case, could be significant.
Continue Reading This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: November 26 to December 2 , 2022
Copyright Royalty Board Announces Cost-of-Living Increase for 2023 Webcasting Royalties – Including Royalties for Broadcasters Who Simulcast Their Programming Online
In a Federal Register notice published today, the Copyright Royalty Board announced cost-of-living increases in the statutory royalties paid by webcasters for the public performance of sound recordings. These are the royalties paid to SoundExchange by those making noninteractive digital transmissions of sound recordings. This included broadcasters who simulcast their over-the-air programming on the internet or through mobile apps (or through other digital means including smart speakers like Alexa, see our article here). The CRB notice sets out the computations that the Board used to determine the amount of the cost-of-living increase. Those computations led to a royalty rate for 2023 of $.0024 per performance for services that do not charge a subscription fee. For subscription services, the rate will be $.0030 per performance. A performance is one song played to one listener – so for one song paid to four listeners one time each, a webcaster pays about a penny.
Given the rate of inflation in the general economy, it is perhaps no surprise that the rates for 2023 represent a substantial increase from the royalties paid last year, and from those that were in place in 2021, the first year of the current 5-year royalty period. As we wrote here, when the CRB decided on the rates for 2021-2025, the nonsubscription rate was $.0021 per performance. But the CRB provided for cost of living increases. That led to rates in 2022 for commercial webcasters, including broadcasters streaming their programming on the internet, of $.0022 per performance for a nonsubscription transmission and $.0028 per performance for a subscription transmission (see our article here mentioning the 2022 increase). …
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FCC Seeks Comments on HD Radio Technical Standards – Could a Power Increase for Digital FM Radio Be Coming?
Until recently, to many in the industry, HD radio seemed to be an afterthought – maybe useful in feeding analog translators, but otherwise not very accessible to the public. But there is now more and more interest in HD radio given the increased inclusion of receivers for this digital service as standard equipment in a majority of new cars. This means that consumers have ready access to programming on digital FM subchannels that the technology allows, plus the digital sound quality that HD radio provides and the auxiliary data services that can be conveyed along with the audio programming. This week, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued a Public Notice asking for comments on two technical proposals to enhance service to the public while minimizing interference that the service might otherwise cause to nearby adjacent-channel stations.
Comments are sought on a proposal by the National Association of Broadcasters and Xperi, Inc. (which acquired iBiquity, the company that developed the HD Radio technology) seeking adoption of an updated formula for computing the power level of the “sidebands” on which the HD service resides. The request also asks that the proposal be combined with a 2019 request that FM stations be allowed to operate an HD service with “asymmetric sidebands” without having to seek experimental authority. What do these requests mean and why might they be important?
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This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: October 22, 2022 to October 28, 2022
Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- On October 26, NAB and Xperi Inc. jointly filed a Petition for Rulemaking asking the FCC to amend its rules
More FCC Broadcast Applications Moving to LMS – Including Requests for STAs
The FCC this week released a Public Notice (that we mentioned in our update on regulatory dates for May) announcing that, on May 17, many new applications and other filings will be migrating to the FCC’s newer LMS filing platform. These include many of the documents that had been until recently filed in the FCC’s old CDBS platform. These applications had, since CDBS was closed for new filings, been submitted through emails to the FCC (see our articles here and here).
Most notably, the new LMS filings will include requests for Special Temporary Authority – and future requests for extensions of STAs. The FCC notes that for STAs that had originally been filed in CDBS, rather than filing an extension request for such STAs, applicants should initially file for a new STA in LMS and indicate in an exhibit that the request is for an extension of an existing STA that was filed in CDBS (or by email in the interim processing period). The full list of applications that will, as of May 17, be filed in LMS is as follows:
- FM Engineering Special Temporary Authorizations (STAs)
- Request for Silent STA
- Extension of STA – Silent
- Extension of STA – Engineering
- Suspension of Operations Notification
- Resumption of Operations
- AM/FM Digital Notification
- Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) Notification
- Change of Primary Station Notification
- Tolling Notification
- Reduced Power Notification
- Withdraw Pending Applications
Continue Reading More FCC Broadcast Applications Moving to LMS – Including Requests for STAs
This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: January 29, 2022 to February 4, 2022
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.
- FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced several leadership changes at the FCC. The changes include a new head of the Media
January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Issues/Programs Lists; Digital LPTV Deadline; Audio Description Expansion; Children’s Programming, Webcasting Royalties; NCE FM Settlement Window; and More
As the holiday season comes to an end and 2022 comes into focus, broadcasters have several dates and deadlines to keep up with in January and early February. We have noted below some of the important dates you should be tracking. However, as always, stay in touch with your station’s lawyers and other regulatory advisors for the dates applicable to your operations. We wish you a happy, healthy, and successful New Year – and remembering to track important regulatory dates will help you achieve those ends.
Let’s start with some of the annual dates that always fall in January. By January 10, full-power radio, TV, and Class A licensees should have their quarterly issues/programs lists uploaded to their online public file. The lists are meant to identify the issues of importance to the station’s community and the programs that the station broadcast in October, November, and December that addressed those issues. Prepare the lists carefully and accurately, as they are the only official records of how your station is serving the public and addressing the needs and interests of its community. See our post here for more on this obligation.
Continue Reading January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Issues/Programs Lists; Digital LPTV Deadline; Audio Description Expansion; Children’s Programming, Webcasting Royalties; NCE FM Settlement Window; and More