So just what legal, regulatory and legislative issues are currently facing broadcasters in Washington? On Tuesday, I did a panel at the Connecticut Broadcasters Association’s Annual Convention in Hartford with Kelly Cole, the Senior Vice President for Government Relations at the NAB. In putting together our presentation, one of the most striking things to me was the number of
Fines for noncommercial broadcasters who air acknowledgments of their donors and contributors that sound too much like commercials have been a problem area for many noncommercial educational radio and television stations, and have resulted in significant fines from the FCC. The FCC allows "enhanced underwriting announcements" that identify a sponsor, what their business is…
So what Washington issues should be keeping broadcasters up at night? At the Connecticut Broadcasters Association Annual Convention in Hartford on October 14, and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention in Wichita on October 18, I presented my Top 10 list of issues for broadcasters – dealing with issues both practical and policy-based. The PowerPoint presentation from Connecticut is available here, and that from Kansas is available here. At these sessions, we discussed a variety of legal issues of importance to the industry, including the need for broadcasters to consider the upcoming license renewal cycle. As we wrote a few weeks ago, that cycle begins with stations in Virginia, Maryland, DC and West Virginia in June 2011, and will continue across the country for the next few years, with radio stations in Kansas filing renewals in February 2013, and radio stations in Connecticut filing on December 1, 2013. Television stations in each state will have applications due a year later. To be sure that stations are prepared for the renewal, they should be checking their public inspection files to make sure that they are complete, and should be preparing quarterly programs-issues lists detailing the programming that they broadcast to serve the public interest. A copy of Davis Wright Tremaine’s most recent advisory on the Quarterly issues programs list is available here. The most recent Quarterly Programs Issues List should have, by October 10, have been placed in the public files of all stations around the country, covering issue-responsive programming that was broadcast in the last quarter. The DWT Advisory covering all of the other materials that should be in the public inspection file, and the retention period for that content, is availablehere.
We also discussed compliance with the FCC’s EEO rules, and how important such compliance is – and how each station’s EEO performance will be evaluated at license renewal time or if the station is randomly audited in the FCC’s EEO random audit process. We wrote about some of the complaints of certain public interest organizations about how they felt that the FCC had not been aggressive enough in EEO enforcement, here. With the scrutiny given to this issue, broadcasters should be observing their obligations carefully. DWT’s advisory on EEO compliance is available here, and our most recent reminder on the annual public inspection file reports for broadcasters is available here. A PowerPoint presentation from a seminar that I just completed for the Washington and Oregon Broadcasters Associations will be posted on our blog shortly, which will highlight some of these EEO obligations.
Dave Oxenford this week conducted a seminar on legal issues facing broadcasters in their digital media efforts. The seminar was organized by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters, and originated before a group of broadcasters in Lansing, but was webcast live to broadcasters in ten other states. Dave addressed a variety of legal issues for broadcasters in connection with their website operations and other digital media platforms. These issues included a discussion of service marks and copyrights, employment matters, music on websites, the use of social media, privacy, and sponsorship disclosure. The slides used in the Lansing presentation are available here. During the seminar, Dave also mentioned that stations with websites featuring user-generated content, to help insulate themselves from copyright infringement that might occur in the content posted to their website by their audience, should take advantage of the registration with the Copyright Office that may provide safe harbor protection if a station follows the rules and takes down offending content when identified by a copyright holder. The Copyright Office instructions for registration can be found here.
One of the most common issues that arise with radio station websites is the streaming of their programming. In August, Dave gave a presentation to the Texas Association of Broadcasters providing a step-by-step guide to streaming issues, with a summary of the royalty rates paid by different types of streaming companies. That summary to Internet Radio issues is available here. Additional information about use of music on the Internet can be found in Davis Wright Tremaine’s Guide to The Basics of Music Licensing in a Digital Age. Dave also presented this seminar at the Connecticut Broadcasters Association’s Annual Convention in Hartford on October 14.