Last week, as we noted in our weekly summary of regulatory actions of importance to broadcasters, the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued an Order directing the FCC to complete its 2018 Quadrennial Regulatory Review of its broadcast ownership rules by December 27, 2023, or show cause why the National Association of Broadcasters’s (NAB) Petition for Writ of Mandamus should not be granted.  The NAB’s petition, filed in April 2023, requests that the D.C. Circuit compel the FCC to conclude the agency’s still-pending 2018 review.  Neither last week’s order, nor any mandamus order that could be issued by the Court should the FCC fail to finish its review by December 27, will compel any particular decision.  Instead, such an order would only require that the FCC finish the review started in 2018 (see our article here on the start of that review process).

The Quadrennial Review process is mandated by Congress.  Every four years, the FCC is required to review its local ownership rules and determine which ones remain in the public interest.  The NAB’s argument to the Court has been that the FCC failed to meet its statutory obligation by not completing the 2018 review last year.  In December, we wrote about the FCC’s failure to complete the Quadrennial Review, and how the inaction has forestalled any review of the issues that were teed up in that review.  What were those issues?Continue Reading Court Orders FCC to Complete Quadrennial Review by December 27 – What are the Issues for Review by the Commission?

In recent weeks, some of the radio trade magazines have been carrying coverage of the litigation between the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) and ASCAP and BMI over the rates that will be paid by commercial radio broadcasters for the public performance of musical compositions that are licensed through these Performing Rights Organizations (PROs).   Negotiations over royalty rates are not new nor is the occasional litigation over those royalties However, because of changes in the law governing these processes, the arguments raised this year  are different and raise important new questions about what could be the first steps toward an entirely different, and perhaps fairer, process for resolving the royalties that broadcasters (and others) pay for the use of music.

What is different, and what are the arguments being made?  RMLC is arguing that the US District Court that oversees the antitrust consent decrees that govern ASCAP and BMI should consolidate the proceedings to determine the rates that broadcasters will pay, rather than considering those rates in separate proceedings.  If parties cannot agree with ASCAP and BMI as to the rates to be charged for the use of music for a particular purpose, a judge from the US District Court in the Southern District of New York conducts a proceeding as a “rate court” to determine a reasonable royalty rate, much as the Copyright Royalty Board does in establishing SoundExchange royalties for the digital public performance of sound recordings.  Because both the ASCAP and BMI agreements with the commercial radio industry have expired, proceedings are underway to determine the rates that radio will pay to these organizations. Continue Reading RMLC Requests Consolidation of ASCAP and BMI Proceeding on Radio Music Royalties – A Step Toward a Unified Process for Resolving All Music Royalty Issues? 

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit issued a decision last week rejecting all of the appeals of the decision by the Copyright Royalty Board (“CRB”) setting the rates that noninteractive webcasters pay to SoundExchange for the digital public performance of sound recordings in the period 2021-2025 (see our article here on the 2021 CRB decision).  As detailed below, the Court rejected appeals from three parties, two that argued that the rates were set too high for specific classes of webcasters, and one from SoundExchange itself which argued that the rates should have been even higher.

As a reminder, the CRB rates apply to all companies who provide a non-interactive, internet-delivered steam of programming which includes recorded music or other audio content, including broadcasters who simulcast their over-the-air programming on the internet.  Congress established the process of setting rates through hearings by the CRB so that noninteractive webcasters would have access to all recorded and publicly released audio recordings without having to individually negotiate with each copyright holder (see our article here about the CRB’s responsibilities).  Services pay these “statutory royalties” to SoundExchange, observe certain requirements that limit how often particular recordings are played so as to not make the services a substitute for buying recordings or listening to them through on-demand services (which pay higher royalties negotiated directly with the copyright holder), and report to SoundExchange what they play.  SoundExchange collects the royalties and uses the reports of what the services played to distribute the royalties they collect.  One-half of the royalties collected go to the performers on the sound recording, and one-half to the copyright holders of the recording, usually the record labels that own the copyrights for sound recordings.Continue Reading Court Rejects Appeals of Copyright Royalty Board Decision on 2021-2025 Webcasting Royalties

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 July 28, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion rejecting appeals

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 Senate Commerce, Science, and Technology Committee this week approved the nomination of Anna Gomez to fill the current vacancy

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.

  • Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced that the FCC, at its open meeting on July 20, intends to allow 13 “Franken FM” or

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.

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.

  • Since the February 24 hearing designation order (HDO) from the FCC’s Media Bureau referring questions about Standard General Broadcasting’s proposed

Note from David Oxenford: Seth Resler of Jacobs Media yesterday wrote on his Connecting the Dots blog about the ease of synthesizing the voice of a celebrity, and the temptation to use that replicated voice in an on-air broadcast.  Last week, in an article on policy issues raised by AI, we mentioned that some states have adopted laws that limit the use of synthesized media in political advertising.  In Seth’s article, he quotes Belinda Scrimenti of my law firm pointing out some of the legal issues that arise from using a synthesized voice even in entertainment programming, and especially in commercials. Belinda has expanded on her thoughts and offers the following observations on the use of synthesized personalities on radio or TV. 

The advent of artificial intelligence poses interesting and often challenging legal issues because the law is still “catching up” with the technology. Consider the impact of new AI platforms that can learn a person’s voice, then speak whatever text you submit to it in that person’s voice. If a user submits 60 seconds of Taylor Swift audio to the AI platform, the platform can use this sample to learn to “speak” as Taylor Swift, and the user can then have “her” say whatever the user wants.

While some states are considering or have adopted some restrictions on impersonation by AI, many existing legal concepts applied with traditional celebrity impersonation claims are already applicable to this kind of synthesized celebrity impersonation. Thus, if the use by a broadcaster of Taylor Swift’s voice (either taped and edited or impersonated by a human) would violate the right of publicity that is already found in the law of most states, the use of her AI voice would also violate these same rights.  Continue Reading Using AI to Replicate the Voice of a Celebrity – Watch Out for Legal Issues Including Violating the Right of Publicity