The FCC today issued an order extending the comment deadline in its Broadcast Diversity proceeding, extending the comment date a full month until July 30, with Reply Comments now due on August 29. This important proceeding, about which we wrote here, will address many issues, including proposals to, among other things, repurpose television
class A TV
FCC’s Acts to Increase Diversity in Media Ownership – Part 2, The Proposals for Future Actions – Channel 6 for FM, AM Expanded Band, Definition of Designated Entity, Must Carry for Class A TV and Others
We recently wrote about the Federal Communications Commission’s actions in their Diversity docket, designed to promote new entrants into the ranks of broadcast station owners. In addition to the rules adopted in the proceeding, the FCC is seeking comment on a number of other ideas – some to restrict the definition of the Designated Entities that are eligible to take advantage of these rules, others to expand the universe of media outlets available to potential broadcast owners – including proposals to expand the FM band onto TV channels 5 and 6, and proposals to allow certain AM stations, which were to be returned to the FCC after their owners received construction permits for expanded band stations, to retain those stations or transfer them to Designated Entities. The proposals, on which public comment is being sought, are summarized below.
Definition of Designated Entity. The first issue raised by the Commission deals with whether the class of applicants entitled to Designated Entity status and entitled to take advantage of the Commission’s diversity initiatives should be restricted. One proposal is to restrict the Designated Entity status to companies controlled by racial minorities. The Commission expressed skepticism about that proposal, noting that the courts had throw out several versions of the FCC’s EEO rules, finding that there was insufficient justification offered by the FCC to constitutionally justify raced-based preferences. The Commission asked that proponents of such preferences provide a “compelling” showing of needed, as necessary for a constitutional justification for governmental race-based discrimination.…
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The Trouble With LPTV – No Plan for DTV Transition
In recent weeks, Low Power Television stations have been the center of attention in Washington in connection with the Digital television transition. While all full-power television stations are set to convert to digital operations less than a year from now, ceasing analog operations at the end of the day on February 17, 2009, there is no specific deadline for LPTV stations to convert to digital. As the NTIA rolls out its coupon program for the purchase of converter boxes that will take digital signals of over-the-air television stations and convert them to analog for those who do not have digital television receivers (see our summary here), LPTV advocates noted that many converters do not pass through analog signals. Thus, once a television is hooked up to a converter box, that television will not be able to pick up stations broadcasting in analog – so many unconverted LPTV stations after the conversion date will be denied access to television receivers.
Suggestions have been made that the converter boxes be reconfigured to pass through analog – unlikely as many of the boxes have already been manufactured and are on their way to stores (note that some converters do pass through analog signals, but a consumer needs to look for those boxes). LPTV advocates have also asked for some form of cable must-carry during the transition process – a proposal sure to be opposed by cable system operators. …
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FCC Adopts Localism Report and Starts Rulemaking to Consider Adopting New Public Interest Obligations for Broadcasters
The FCC today adopted a Report on its Localism proceeding, accessing the evidence that it gathered in its three year long investigation of whether broadcasters were adequately serving the interests of their local communities. We wrote long ago about some of the specific issues that the FCC was reviewing in this proceeding – everything from the public interest programming of broadcasters to their music selection process to their response to local emergencies. Among the report’s conclusions were findings that not all broadcasters were adequately assessing the needs of their communities or serving the public interest through coverage of local news and other local events. Because of these perceived weaknesses in broadcaster performance, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, much as we expected in our post here, tentatively concluding that re-regulation of the broadcast industry was necessary, bringing back some form of ascertainment and some specific quantifiable requirements for public interest programming.
As in the case of the Multiple Ownership order adopted today (summarized here), the full text of the FCC Report and the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has not been released. Instead, only a short Public Notice, and the statements of the Commissioners at the meeting, are available to determine what was done. From these notices, it appears that three tentative conclusions were reached. They are, as follows:
More Low Power TV stations should be able to get Class A status, meaning that they are no longer a secondary service that can be "bumped" by a new full power television station or by changes to the facilities of a full-power station
Each licensee should be required to establish a community advisory board made up of specific groups of community leaders, with whom the station would meet on a regular basis to assess the needs of the community
The FCC’s license renewal standards should contain specific quantitative requirements for public service programming
While these may sound like noble decisions, there are many details and much history that the Commission needs to address before these proposals become final FCC rules.…
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