On Friday, the Commission formally began a rule making proceeding regarding children and electronic media. Aware of the vast opportunities, but also the potential risks inherent in today’s (and tomorrow’s) electronic media, the Commission is seeking to gather information about the extent to which children are using media today, the benefits and risks of the various
When the Low Power FM service was first authorized, it was as a "secondary service," though a recent court decision shows how that secondary status is becoming less and less a reality. A secondary service is traditionally one that can be allotted where there are no other uses for a particular frequency, and which is subject to being bumped off the spectrum should there be another demand for that spectrum by a "primary" user. LPFM stations were originally supposed to provide service to areas between full-power FM radio stations, and to be bumped off the air if there was a new FM station authorized or a change in the frequency or power of an existing station. A decision of the Court of Appeals released earlier this month , upholding an FCC order giving more protections to LPFM stations, puts this secondary service into question.
The Court decision upheld the Commission’s decision, about which we wrote here, determining that waivers of second adjacent channel interference limitations between LPFM and full power stations should be permitted to help preserve LPFM service. In addition, the Court upheld the FCC’s process in adopting a new "interim" policy which provides that, where an LPFM is providing 8 hours a day of local programming and would be knocked off the air by an upgrade or city of license change of a full-power station, the LPFM station could apply for a waiver of its secondary status, and there would be a rebuttable presumption in favor of such a waiver. If the waiver is granted, the LPFM station would be preserved, and the application of the full-power station dismissed. Thus, effectively, LPFM would no longer be secondary, but instead will have assumed a primary, protected status.
Last month, the FCC released a Public Notice requesting further comments on the proposal to increase the power of HD radio operations. We have written about that proceeding a number of times, including posts here and here. The increased power for the digital radio signals has been sought by many broadcasters who believe that current HD radio power levels do not produce strong enough digital signals to penetrate buildings and fully serve radio markets. On the other hand, other broadcasters fear that the increased power for the digital signals will create interference to existing analog stations operating on adjacent channels. Today, the FCC set the dates for the filing of these additional comments – comments are due on July 6, with replies due on July 17.
While comments have already been filed on the proposal to increase digital power, the FCC has raised a number of specific issues on which it wants comments, especially in light of the studies sponsored by NPR in cooperation with a number of other broadcasters, which seek to do a comprehensive review of the interference potential of higher powered digital operations. NPR is shooting to have that report to the FCC in September. The specific questions raised in the new FCC notice are:
- Whether the FCC should wait to decide on the power increase proposal until after the NPR study is done
- Whether current operations by radio stations operating in HD, and the various tests that have already been run, demonstrate the need for higher power operation on a permanent or provisional basis
- Whether new standards of interference to adjacent channel stations should be adopted, and if the interference should also protect LPFM stations
- Whether there should be specific procedures adopted to resolve any interference issues that do arise.
As you may have heard, Facebook is going to allow users to register names in their Facebook URL, replacing the former random ID numbers. This policy, announced in a Facebook blog post earlier this week will become effective on a first come, first served basis beginning Saturday, June 13 at 12:01 am. This new policy creates the danger that Facebook users may try to register as their user name words or phrases that could infringe on a company name, trademarked slogan, or even a broadcast station’s call signs. To prevent others from using your company’s name, call sign or other trademark, Facebook has created a form allowing rights holders to register their marks ahead of time. To protect your intellectual property in the easiest manner possible (without the need for costly infringement lawsuits of other actions), companies should take advantage of the procedures outlined by Facebook itself, and register with the company.
A couple of caveats:
- User names have to be at least five alphanumeric characters. This means that four letter call signs cannot be used as user names unless used with a suffix or frequency. Since periods are the only punctuation allowed, acceptable user names might be WXYZ.FM, or FM98.1, for example.
- In order to prevent someone from using your trademark in advance, it appears that it must be a registered mark. However, a separate form appears to allow intellectual property rights holders to reclaim a user name, even if it is not a registered trademark. Thus, if your company name, mark or call sign is unregistered, you can either register it as your own Facebook user name or wait until someone else does that and complain after the fact. You do not need to be a Facebook user to submit the intellectual property rights forms described above.
Congress years ago tried to regulate indecency on the Internet through the Child Online Protection Act, through regulation of content that was harmful to minors. Because of the sweeping nature of the restrictions, the Courts have repeatedly invalidated the law. We wrote in March 2007 about a Federal District Court decision invalidating the…