The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice calling for public comment on the state of the communications marketplace so that it can prepare a report to Congress – a report that is required every even-numbered year. The Notice calls for comments on the state of competition in various sectors of the communications industry – including for audio and video. The inclusion of audio in this report is relatively new – being included for the first time two years ago (see our article here). Comments in this proceeding are due on April 13, with replies due May 13.
The Audio Competition Report prepared two years ago was very important in informing the FCC as to the state of competition in that segment of the market. Comments filed with the Commission on the report were incorporated in the record of the FCC’s Quadrennial Review Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which entertained the possibility of changes in the ownership rules for broadcast radio in light of the substantial competition that comes from digital audio sources (see our article here on the Quadrennial Review NPRM). Whether this year’s report will be as crucial is unknown, as the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decision on the FCC’s 2017 ownership rule changes have, for now, put all broadcast ownership changes on hold while the FCC (and the Department of Justice) decide whether to appeal that case to the Supreme Court or to attempt to answer the Third Circuit’s concerns that the FCC had not sufficiently addressed the impact of changes in its ownership rules on minority ownership (see our articles here and here). While these decisions are being made, it appears that all ownership changes are on hold.