Each quarter, my partner David O’Connor and I update a list of the legal and regulatory issues facing TV broadcasters. That list of issues is published by TVNewsCheck and is available on their website, here. This update was published today, and provides a summary of the status of legal and regulatory issues ranging
Last week, I did a presentation on the issues facing broadcasters at the Kansas Association of Broadcasters annual convention (a copy of the slides from my presentation is available here). I spoke about some of the day-to-day issues that can get broadcasters into trouble, as well as some of the big policy issues that broadcasters need to consider. My presentation was preceded by a session conducted by the agent in charge of the Kansas City field office of the FCC, who emphasized the many issues that the field agents discover at broadcast stations that can lead to fines. In the week since I returned from Kansas, it seems like the FCC has wanted to demonstrate the examples given by their agent, as there have been a large number of fines demonstrating the breadth of technical issues that broadcasters can face. Fines (or "forfeitures", as the FCC calls them) were issued or proposed for issues ranging from faded tower paint, tower light outages, EAS problems, operations with excess power, and the ubiquitous (and very costly) public file violations. Fines of up to $25,000 were issued for these violations – demonstrating how important it is not to overlook the day-to-day compliance matters highlighted in my presentation.
The largest of these fines was for $25,000. This fine was imposed on a station for failing to have operational EAS equipment, not having an enclosed fence around the antenna site, and a missing public file. The fine was originally proposed in a Notice of Apparent Liability (the first step in imposing an FCC fine, when the FCC spells out the apparent violation and the fine proposed, and the licensee is given time to respond to the allegations), released in July (see our post here). The licensee failed to respond to the Notice of Apparent Liability, thus the fine is now being officially imposed.
February 1 is the deadline by which broadcast stations in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma must place into their Public Inspection files their Annual EEO Public Inspection File Report. The report must also be available on these stations’ websites, if they have such sites. The Annual EEO Public Inspection File Report…
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.
David Oxenford today conducted a webinar for the Kansas Association of Broadcasters on the rules for political advertising. In addition to the elections for the US House of Representatives, Kansas has a race to fill a vacant US Senate seat, as well as elections for Governor and a whole host of state and local offices.
David Oxenford provided a legal update on Washington issues to the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention in Topeka on October 19, 2009. His presentation – What Broadcasters Need to Know About What to Expect from Washington in 2009-2010 – discussed issues including the proposed broadcast performance royalty, localism and multiple ownership proceedings at the FCC, LPFM changes, and advertising and sponsorship…
Davis Wright Tremaine attorneys Amber Husbands and David Oxenford conducted a webinar on August 26, 2009 for the Kansas Association of Broadcasters, discussing legal issues of importance to on-air talent. Issues discussed included broadcast indecency, station contests, sponsorship identification and payola issues, potential liability that can arise from the use of…
On October 13, 2008, David Oxenford conducted a session at the Kansas Association of Broadcasters Annual Convention, held in Wichita. The session, called "What Else Can Washington Do For You?" focused on regulatory and legislative developments that affect broadcasters.
A copy of the PowerPoint presentation used at this session will be available here soon.