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 Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced that comments responding to the Bureau’s proposed final deadlines for the submission of reimbursement

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 Enforcement Bureau released a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing a $25,000 fine on two commonly-owned clusters of broadcast

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? 

This week brought the news that the Biden administration has nominated Anna Gomez for the open Democratic FCC seat that Gigi Sohn was to fill until she asked that her nomination be withdrawn in March, after a prolonged debate over her confirmation.  Gomez is experienced in government circles, having worked at NTIA (a Department of

It’s a new year, and it’s time to look ahead at what Washington may have in store for broadcasters this year.  The FCC may be slow to tackle some of the big issues on its agenda (like the completion of 2018 Quadrennial Review or any other significant partisan issue) as it still has only four Commissioners – two Democrats and two Republicans.  On controversial issues like changes to the ownership rules, there tends to be a partisan divide.  As the nomination of Gigi Sohn expired at the end of the last Congress in December, the Biden administration was faced with the question of whether to renominate her and hope that the confirmation process moves more quickly this time, or to come up with a new nominee whose credentials will be reviewed by the Senate.  It was announced this week that the administration has decided to renominate her, meaning that her confirmation process will begin anew.  How long that process takes and when the fifth commissioner is seated may well set the tone for what actions the FCC takes in broadcast regulation this year.

Perhaps the most significant issue at the FCC facing broadcasters is the resolution of the 2018 Quadrennial Review to assess the current local ownership rules and determine if they are still in the public interest.  As we wrote last week, the FCC has already started the 2022 review, as required by Congress, even though it has not resolved the issues raised in the 2018 review.  For the radio industry, those issues include the potential relaxation of the local radio ownership rules.  As we have written, some broadcasters and the NAB have pushed the FCC to recognize that the radio industry has significantly changed since the ownership limits were adopted in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, and local radio operators need a bigger platform from which to compete with the new digital companies that compete for audience and advertising in local markets.  Other companies have been reluctant to endorse changes – but even many of them recognize that relief from the ownership limits on AM stations would be appropriate.Continue Reading Looking Into the Crystal Ball – What’s Coming in Broadcast Regulation in 2023 From the FCC

The new year brings a series of regulatory deadlines in January and a February 1 license renewal deadline that broadcasters should take note of.  As in 2022, the FCC will remain vigilant in making sure that its deadlines are met, so the following items should not be overlooked or left until the last minute.

The

In our summary of this week’s regulatory actions of importance to broadcasters, we noted that the FCC sent an email to broadcasters last week warning them of a cybersecurity flaw in the DASDEC EAS encoder/decoder device sold by Digital Alert Systems (formerly Monroe Electronics), using software prior to version 4.1. The email states that the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued an advisory expressing concern that there is a vulnerability in the code used by the system that can be used by remote attackers.  The CISA advisory provides the technical details of the vulnerability.

The fear is that this security flaw can allow bad actors to access not only to the EAS system but, if that system is connected to other station computer networks, to other station information and systems as well.  Securing the EAS system has been a priority of the FCC, with a pending rulemaking proposal (about which we wrote here) that would require stations to adopt cybersecurity plans to secure these systems and report yearly to the FCC about those plans (and report breaches when the station learns of such breaches or when they should have learned about the breach).  The FCC already requires that false EAS alerts be reported to the FCC within 24 hours (see our article here) – but the new proposal would require FCC notice even if no false alert occurred.  With the FCC contemplating the imposition of these obligations on broadcasters, and (of paramount priority) the risks that station operations can be compromised by any cyberbreach, stations need to be extra-vigilant in their cybersecurity considerations.  Thus, any stations that use the identified encoder/decoder must be sure that they have taken the proper actions to secure their stations.
Continue Reading FCC Warns Broadcasters of Specific Cybersecurity Flaw in One EAS Provider’s Equipment – Why Broadcasters Need to Pay Attention

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.

At each of the last two of the FCC’s recent regular monthly open meetings, the Commission addressed EAS issues that affect broadcasters. In one case, it adopted new rules that will, among other things, require that broadcasters use on-air the “IPAWS” internet-delivered emergency message in the CAP format, if the broadcaster receives the alert in both the CAP and traditional over-the-air formats.  The second action starts a rulemaking to look at imposing on broadcasters an obligation to secure their EAS systems from hacking and other electronic intrusions – and to regularly report to the FCC about what they are doing in connection with such security measures.  Let’s look in a little more depth at these actions (which we have previously briefly summarized in our weekly updates, here and here).

At its September 29 open meeting, the FCC adopted a Report and Order with the announced intention of making emergency alerts delivered over television and radio stations more informative and easier to understand by the public, particularly people with disabilities. The updated rules require broadcasters, cable systems, and other Emergency Alert System participants to transmit the Internet-based version of alerts when available (those transmitted through the internet based Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, “IPAWS,” using the Common Alerting Protocol or “CAP” protocol)  rather than transmitting the legacy over-the-air “daisy chain” version of alerts which often contain less information or have lower quality than that of CAP-delivered alerts.  As noted by the FCC, the CAP format allows for more information, including video clips (for TV), augmented warning information, and even foreign-language versions of alerts to be transmitted – information not available from alerts that are transmitted over-the-air.
Continue Reading FCC Looks at EAS Rules – Requires That Broadcast Alerts Default to CAP, and Seeks Comments on Securing the System

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.