Multiple Ownership Rules

The FCC this week announced the end of Auction 109, which offered for sale construction permits for 139 new stations – 4 AM stations in the St. Louis area whose licenses were surrendered by the prior licensee, and 135 new FM channels.  97 of the channels were sold but 42, including all of the AM stations, went unsold in the auction.  The full auction results can be seen on the FCC’s auction site here.  The FCC will raise $12,344,110 from the auction – though over $9,000,000 of that is to be paid for two channels – over $6 million for a Sacramento FM and over $3 million for an FM to be licensed to a community just north of the Dallas metro.

The 42 channels that were unsold range from channels allotted to small communities in states like Wyoming or Alaska that were predicted to serve very few people, thus having opening bids as low as $750 that no one was willing to meet, to channels in somewhat bigger communities including channels in New York state and Colorado that had opening bids of $75,000, indicating that they would serve a substantial number of people, but the prices were apparently deemed too high to justify for companies looking for a business return. The 4 St. Louis area AM stations, which each had opening bids of $50,000, appear to be in that same category.  This lack of interest may also say something about the FCC’s local radio ownership rules.
Continue Reading Auction for New AM and FM Channels Ends with Almost a Third of the Channels Unsold – Does the Result Say Something About the FCC’s Local Ownership Rules?

Last week, another bill was introduced in both the House and the Senate with the intention of supporting local media to help offset the erosion of their advertising base by digital media.  The Local Journalism Sustainability Act (text of House bill here, and summary of Senate bill here) proposes certain benefits for local newspaper subscribers, as well as benefits to advertisers who advertise on local media – both broadcast and print.  For newspaper subscribers, individuals can get tax credits of up to $250 per year to cover a portion of their newspaper subscription fees.  For advertisers who place advertising on either a local newspaper or a local broadcast stations, a tax credit of up to $5000 would be available to certain small businesses who utilize local media to get their advertising messages to their communities.

In addition, the bill would provide local media a tax credit of up to $12,500 for hiring local “journalists” who spend at least 100 hours per year on reporting local news.  While the current House version of the bill provides this credit only to newspaper companies, the summary of the Senate version proposes that it also be extended to broadcasters.  This provision in particular has brought support from the RTDNA – the association that represents news professionals – who see it as an incentive to local media outlets to hire more news professionals.
Continue Reading The Local Journalism Sustainability Act – Another Congressional Proposal to Help Local Media

While the regulatory deadlines in August may be a bit lighter than other months, there are still several important regulatory dates to keep track of, some of which are detailed below.  All broadcasters should have August 11 circled and highlighted on their calendars as the date of the next National EAS Test.  And there are renewal and EEO deadlines, as well as several comment dates on FCC regulatory proposals.

After skipping last year’s annual test due to the pandemic, FEMA and the FCC chose August 11 to hold this year’s National EAS Test.  All broadcasters should work with their engineers and technical staff to make sure their EAS equipment is operating properly and is set to monitoring the stations that they are required to monitor by their state EAS plan.  By the day after the test, August 12, broadcasters must file Form Two in the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) portal with “day of test” information.  Then, by September 27, broadcasters must file in ETRS Form Three with detailed post-test data.  The information shared with FEMA and the FCC allows them to determine the successes and failures of the test.
Continue Reading August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: National EAS Test, License Renewals, EEO Reporting, Political Broadcasting Rules Proposals, Media Ownership Comments, Annual Regulatory Fees, and More

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 four television network affiliates groups have asked the FCC to clarify its new rules for sponsorship identification of programming

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 FCC’s Video Division of its Media Bureau has begun to release decisions on TV license renewal applications filed in

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.

  • This week all but ends analog television operations in the US. The FCC’s Media Bureau reminded all low power television

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 FCC this week reminded television broadcasters of their obligation to make televised emergency information accessible to persons with disabilities.

The Newspaper Broadcast Cross-Ownership Rule is Finally Dead – And More Ownership Rule Changes – Including for Radio – Are to be Considered

Last Friday, the FCC took two actions on broadcast ownership resulting from the recent Supreme Court decision (about which we wrote here) upholding changes to the ownership rules that the FCC adopted in 2017.  Those 2017 changes (summarized here) and any additional changes to the rules, including changes to the radio ownership rules that have not been substantially reviewed since 1996, have been held up by the 2019 decision of the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  That Court reversed the FCC’s 2017 decision which had relaxed many ownership rules, notably including the abolition of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule and some of the local television ownership restrictions.

The Third Circuit found that the FCC had done an inadequate job of assessing the impact of the 2017 changes (and past ownership changes) on the diversity of broadcast ownership.  Until such a historical review could be conducted, all FCC ownership proceedings were put on hold.  This hold was finally lifted by the Supreme Court’s decision reversing the Third Circuit and reinstating the 2017 FCC decision.  On Friday, the FCC issued an Order that formally reinstated the rules that had been overturned by the Third Circuit and also took some tentative steps toward restarting its regular review of broadcast ownership rules, including the local radio ownership rules that were largely unaffected by the 2017 FCC rule changes.  The FCC issued a Public Notice that asked for an update on comments they filed on the 2018 Quadrennial Review of the ownership rules (see our article here) in 2019.
Continue Reading FCC Implements Supreme Court Order Reinstating 2017 Ownership Rule Changes, and Asks for Updating of Record of 2018 Quadrennial Review

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.

  • Because of the Supreme Court’s decision earlier this year upholding the Commission’s 2017 relaxation of certain media ownership rules, the