Last week, both the FCC and FEMA issued notices to broadcasters, cable and other EAS participants that there was a vulnerability in the EAS technologies that could make those systems subject to hacking, potentially allowing bad actors to send out messages to the public using the alerting system (see FCC notice here and FEMA notice

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.

  • Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC released public notices, available here and here, alerting broadcasters

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.

  • A bill was introduced in the US Senate proposing to prohibit any FCC or criminal action against a broadcaster who

With the end of summer upon us, we begin to look forward to the regulatory issues that will face broadcasters as we barrel toward the end of the year.  One date on many broadcaster’s minds is the date by which the annual regulatory fees will be due to be paid.  While the payment date is almost certainly going to be sometime in September, look for an FCC decision on the amount of those fees at some point in late August.  As we wrote in last week’s summary of regulatory actions (and in many before), the amount that broadcasters will pay remains a matter of dispute, so watch for the resolution of that dispute by September, as fees must be paid before the October 1 start of the FCC’s next fiscal year.

But many other dates of importance to broadcasters will occur well before the resolution of the regulatory fee issue.  August 1 is the deadline for full power television, Class A television, LPTV, and TV translator license renewal applications for stations in California.  As we have previously advised,  renewal applications must be accompanied by FCC Form 2100, Schedule 396 Broadcast EEO Program Report (except for LPFMs and TV translators).  Stations filing for renewal of their license should make sure that all documents required to be uploaded to the station’s online public file are complete and were uploaded on time.  Note that your Broadcast EEO Program Report must include two years of Annual EEO Public File Reports for FCC review, unless your employment unit employs fewer than five full-time employees.  Be sure to read the instructions for the license renewal application and consult with your advisors if you have questions, especially if you have noticed any discrepancies in your online public file or political file.  Issues with the public file have already led to fines imposed on TV broadcasters during this renewal cycle.
Continue Reading August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters:  Regulatory Fees, EEO Reports, Many Rulemaking Comment Dates, and More

As more and more states revise their laws to decriminalize or legalize marijuana use (for medical and recreational purposes), and more and more cannabis businesses in those states begin operations, broadcasters have been looking to provide their advertising services to these new companies.  But, as we’ve written before (see, for instance, our articles here and here) , marijuana is still illegal under federal law, as is the use of the radio airwaves to aide in its distribution.  Because broadcasters are federal licensees, there is a heightened concern that those federal licenses could be jeopardized if broadcasters start accepting such advertising.  In the last few weeks, however, there have been some legislative moves on Capitol Hill proposing to remove some of those concerns – but all such efforts have a way to go before broadcasters should consider changing their approach to such ads.

The bill that would seemingly have the potential to lift those restrictions is the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, a draft bill that would remove marijuana from Schedule I, which is the list of drugs that are prohibited for all purposes under federal law (see draft text here and summaries here and here).  While Senate Majority Leader Schumer had indicated that this bill might be considered by the Senate soon, there are many questions as to whether there are sufficient votes to pass the measure, whether there would be enough time to get House approval before the end of the Congressional term, and even whether the President would agree to sign the legislation if passed. Looking at the text, you realize that it is not a simple piece of legislation, as it would change many aspects of government policy to accommodate the proposed change in status of marijuana under federal law.  Even if it were to become law, its effect on the advertising of marijuana may not be immediate.
Continue Reading Looking at Legislative Proposals that Would Allow Broadcasters to Accept Marijuana Advertising

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 FCC’s Audio Division, in the latter part of the license renewal cycle for radio stations, seems to have adopted a more aggressive position on stations that were silent for extended periods of time during their license term.  In our summary of last week’s events of importance to broadcasters, we noted one case where an Oklahoma AM station was granted a license renewal for a one-year term, instead of the normal eight years, because the station had been silent for 50% of its license term.  Yesterday, another decision was issued granting the license renewals of 7 Texas stations for only one year because these stations had been silent for 25% of their license term (as well as a significant period of time after the license renewal applications were filed).  These and other decisions in recent months show that the FCC is cracking down on stations that are silent for extended periods of time, even if those periods of silence had been authorized by the FCC pursuant to a request for special temporary authority to remain silent.

In each of these decisions, the FCC notes that silent stations cannot be serving the public interest.  When they are silent, they are not providing information to local residents, nor are they relaying EAS alerts.  As the stations are falling short on their obligation to serve the public by extended periods of silence (even if those periods of silence are authorized), the FCC has been issuing these short-term renewals to be able to monitor the performance of these stations to assure that they are continuing to operate during the next year – rather than having to wait until the end of a normal 8-year term to decide if the station has been serving the public.
Continue Reading FCC Cracking Down on Long Periods of Station Silence – Short-Term Renewals for Radio Stations Silent More than 25% of License Term

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 US Court of Appeals this week determined that the FCC’s requirement that broadcasters confirm by searching DOJ and FCC

The FCC in recent years has been upgrading their technical systems (even though, as many broadcasters and their attorneys know, the upgrades are often not without their own problems).  The old CDBS database, in which broadcasters for years filed their applications, is shut down for all new filings as almost all broadcast applications have migrated to the new Licensing and Management System (“LMS”) database system.  Another transition date is almost upon broadcasters as the FCC announced months ago that it will be decommissioning its legacy Commission Registration System (“CORES”) at 6 pm EST on July 15.  We’ve written about that deadline in several weekly updates and in our post looking ahead at July regulatory dates for broadcasters.  But with the date almost upon us, it is important to remind broadcasters to register in the new system by the July 15 deadline. By that deadline, each person associated with your licensee’s FCC Registration Number (“FRN”), including those who prepare or submit your FCC filings or submit your annual FCC regulatory fees, should register in its new CORES2 database by setting up an account and then associating their account with the relevant FRN.  Once legacy CORES is retired, you will only be able to access FCC filing and payment systems using a CORES2 user account. See the FCC webpage with information about the transition here.

The new CORES2 system contains the same FRN information as the legacy system (found here ). The change to CORES2 will impact how individuals, licensees and other entities doing business before the FCC obtain and manage their FRNs, and will also affect access to various FCC databases, including the LMS used for preparing and filing routine FCC applications and reports.   To maintain access to the information in CORES, all licensees need to register in the new system.  Tutorial videos on navigating CORES2 can found here.
Continue Reading FCC Database Transitions – Are You Ready for the New CORES on July 15? Did You Know Call Sign Reservation Has Moved?

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.