Public Interest Obligations/Localism

On paper, this October appears to be a busy month for regulatory deadlines.  But the lack of congressional action to fund the federal government for the coming year (or “continuing resolutions” adopted to allow government agencies to function at their current levels) is making a federal government shutdown appear inevitable.  If a government shutdown does occur, the FCC, the FTC, and the Copyright Office may also shutdown – which, as with previous shutdowns, may result in many of the regulatory deadlines discussed below being delayed. 

According to the August 2023 FCC Shutdown Plan, if a potential lapse in appropriations is imminent, the FCC will determine whether and for how long prior year funds will be made available to continue all agency operations during a lapse.  To date, however, the FCC has not stated whether it plans to remain open – and if so, for how long – if a government shutdown does occur.  Details from the FCC and other agencies should be released shortly given the shutdown that may well occur this weekend. 

Until we receive such guidance, the tentative October regulatory deadlines for broadcasters are provided below.  Even if the government does shut down, these dates will likely be rescheduled for soon after the funding issue is resolved.  So, let’s look at the upcoming deadlines. Continue Reading October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Nationwide EAS Test, Annual EEO Public File Reports, Retransmission Consent Elections, Biennial Ownership Reports, and More (If the Government is Open)

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 Media Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with the licensee of an Illinois Class A television station in

The Senate this week approved Anna Gomez for the open Democratic FCC seat that has been vacant since the start of the Biden Administration.  As we wrote in May when the President first nominated her, Gomez is experienced in government circles, having worked at NTIA (a Department of Commerce agency dealing with federal spectrum use and other communications matters) and recently at the State Department preparing for international meetings about communications issues.  She also has a history in private law firm practice. 

Together with her nomination, the President renominated Commissioners Starks and Carr for new terms as Commissioners, but those nominations remain pending – not having been approved this week with the Gomez nomination.  Democratic Commissioner Starks’s term has already expired but he continues to serve under the allowable one-year carry-over which ends at the beginning of January 2024.  Republican Commissioner Carr’s term will expire at the end of this year, but he would be able to serve through the end of 2024 if his renomination is not confirmed.  There is some speculation that these nominations will be packaged with other pending nominations for positions at other government agencies to avoid having the FCC return to a partisan stalemate again in January if the Starks’ renomination is not approved by then. Continue Reading And Then There Were Five – Senate Approves Anna Gomez as Fifth FCC Commissioner – What Broadcast Issues Could a Full FCC Consider? 

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.

  • In the last two license renewal cycles, more fines have been issued for full-power stations violating the requirement that they

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 released its Report and Order setting the annual regulatory fees that broadcasters must pay for 2023. The Order

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.

  • Around this time of year, the FCC typically issues a Public Notice reminding TV broadcasters, cable operators, satellite television services,

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

July is relatively light on broadcast regulatory dates, but the Quarterly Issues/Programs List deadline on July 10 is one that applies to all full-power broadcasters and Class A TV stations.  As set forth below, there are a few other dates worth noting this coming month – with more to come in August.

July 10 is the deadline by which all full-power television, full-power radio and Class A television stations must upload to their online public inspection files their Quarterly Issues/Program Lists for the second quarter of 2023.  The lists should identify the issues of importance to the station’s community and the programs that the station aired in April, May and June that addressed those issues.  As you finalize your lists, do so 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 article here for more on the importance of the Quarterly Issues/Programs list obligation.

July 10 is also the deadline by which noncommercial educational stations must upload to their public inspection files documentation of any on-air fundraising benefitting third parties that interrupted their normal programming from April 1 through June 30, 2023.  This obligation applies to noncommercial educational stations not affiliated with NPR or PBS that conducted such third-party on-air fundraising.  For more information about this requirement, see our article here.  Also on July 10, Class A television stations should upload to their online public file documentation of their continuing eligibility for Class A status during the period from April 1 through June 30, 2023.

Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced that the FCC, at its open meeting on July 20, intends to announce its decision resolving whether it will continue to allow “Franken FM” or “FM6 stations,” (i.e., LPTV stations operating on TV channel 6 with an analog audio service that can be received on FM radios at 87.7 MHz) to provide their existing analog radio service by authorizing it as an “ancillary or supplementary service.”  LPTV operators had asked the FCC to bless the post-conversion operation of an analog audio signal embedded in the digital Channel 6 LPTV station transmissions so that these FM broadcasts can continue, which the FCC has tentatively decided to do with respect to 13 LPTV stations that had provided such service in the past.  For more details on this item, see our blog article here

July 31 is the deadline by which commercial television stations with locally-produced programming whose signals were carried as distant signals by at least one cable or satellite system in 2022 may file royalty claims for compensation with the Copyright Office in Washington, DC.  Cable and satellite systems are obligated to pay these royalties pursuant to their compulsory copyright license to carry distant TV signals on their systems. Stations that do not file claims by the July 31 deadline will not be able to collect royalties for distant carriage of their signals during 2022.  The filing process consists of two-steps: (1) if you did not do so last year, you must register through the Copyright Royalty Boards’s eCRB system and then (2) file your claim electronically through eCRB by July 31, 2023.  

The Commission recently issued a Public Notice announcing that it is taking comments on a Petition for Rulemaking filed by REC Networks in which REC proposes rules to govern a possible future FM translator filing window.  Among REC’s proposals are a limit on applications by any one applicant and limits on the sale of any construction permits that are granted in any new filing window.  Comments on the REC Petition are due on July 26, 2023 and will give the FCC the opportunity to decide whether to further advance these proposals through a formal rulemaking process. 

The FCC has published its All-In Pricing for Cable and Satellite Television Service Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM).  Comments are due July 31, and replies are due August 29.  The NPRM proposes to require cable operators and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to specify the “all-in” price for video service in their promotional materials and on subscribers’ bills.  Cable operators and DBS providers would be able to complement the aggregate line item with an itemized explanation of the elements that compose that single line item. 

Looking forward to early August, August 1 is the deadline for Radio and Television Station Employment Units in California, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin with 5 or more full-time employees to upload to their online public inspection file their Annual EEO Public File Report. A station employment unit is a station or cluster of commonly controlled stations serving the same general geographic area having at least one common employee.  For employment units with 5 or more full-time employees, the annual report covers hiring and employment outreach activities for the prior year.  A link to the uploaded report must also be included on the home page of a station’s website, if it has a website. 

For those radio employment units in North Carolina and South Carolina, the Annual EEO Public File Report brings a new requirement, as this is the mid-point of those stations’ renewal term.  As we wrote here, this means that the FCC will conduct its EEO Mid-Term Review of those radio employment units with 11 or more full-time employees.  When radio stations in these states upload their Annual EEO Public File Reports, they must also check a new checkbox in the Settings section of the FCC-hosted public inspection file stating whether or not they have 11 or more full-time employees in their employment unit, so the FCC knows which clusters to review as part of the Mid-Term Review.  All other radio groups will need to complete this step as well prior to their Mid-Term Review.

As always, this list of dates is not exhaustive.  Note, too, that deadlines can change.  Always review these dates with your legal and technical advisors, and note other dates not listed here that may be relevant to your operations. Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, Franken FMs, Copyright Distant Signal Copyright Claims, and More

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.