television incentive auctions

As in any month, February has many impending deadlines for broadcasters and media companies – many routine regulatory obligations as well as some that are specific to certain proceedings.  First, let’s look at some of the routine filing deadlines.  On February 2, license renewal applications in the second-to-last filing window of this renewal cycle are due to be submitted to the FCC by TV stations in New York and New Jersey.  The last TV stations to have to file in a regular renewal cycle will be due on April 1, for those TV stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware.  After these stations complete their renewal filings, it will be another 5 years before another set of routine license renewals are to be filed.  Stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware should be broadcasting their pre-filing announcements on February 1 and February 16 (and there are also post-filing announcements that need to be run by the New York and New Jersey stations, as well as those in New England that filed their applications by December 1). 

Radio and TV stations in New York and New Jersey, as well as in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska and Oklahoma, should be placing EEO Annual Public File Reports in their public files (online for TV and paper for radio, with links to the reports on their websites) by February 1 if they are part of an employment unit with 5 or more full-time employees.  By February 2, noncommercial TV stations in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey, and New York should file with the FCC their Biennial Ownership Reports, and noncommercial radio stations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma should be filing those same reports on February 2.  Commercial radio and TV stations in the entire country will be filing their Biennial Reports in December of this year.  A guide to many of the regular FCC filing deadlines can be found in our Broadcasters Calendar available here.
Continue Reading February Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – TV Renewals, EEO Reports, Lots of TV Incentive Auction Activity, OTT MVPD and Contest Comments, and Last-Minute January Deadlines for Webcasting

We wrote last week about some of the upcoming issues on the FCC’s agenda for the very short term related to the TV incentive auction to clear part of the TV spectrum for use by wireless companies, and the subsequent “repacking” of the TV stations who do not sell their licenses in the auction into the new smaller TV band.  On Thursday, the FCC took a step to make that repacking somewhat more concrete – releasing a Public Notice where the FCC’s Media Bureau seeks comment on a draft TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund Reimbursement Form (the draft form is here, and draft instructions to the form can be found here).  This will be the form that broadcasters will use to claim payment from the government for the costs of the repacking.  The Bureau asks for comments on the draft Reimbursement Form.  The comments are due on October 27, 2014.

The form provides a checklist of likely expenses, asking for details of the equipment to be bought and other expenses to be incurred in making the transition, including both hardware costs and soft costs including the reimbursement of tower crews, consulting engineers and even broadcast attorneys for filing the necessary FCC forms.  Broadcasters should carefully review the draft form to make sure that it anticipates all categories of expected expenses that stations may incur in the repacking process.
Continue Reading FCC Seeks Comments on Form for Reimbursement of Expenses for Technical Changes Caused By Repacking the Television Specrum After the Broadcast Incentive Auction

The FCC’s planned incentive auction, by which the Commission hopes to pay broadcasters to surrender some of their TV licenses so that these stations’ spectrum can be repurposed for wireless broadband uses, is almost impossible to define in a simple blog post.  The FCC issued its Order on the Incentive Auction process several months ago and, despite that order being over 300 pages long, many issues remain unresolved.  Last month came the announcement that the National Association of Broadcasters had filed a court challenge to that order (on the first business day after the order was published in the Federal Register, meaning that there is still two weeks in which additional challenges may be filed in Court).  While the NAB is seemingly limiting its current challenge to a few issues (according to a Blog post on the NAB website), there still are many other issues to which broadcasters have no final answers as there are further proceedings yet to come that will help to decide exactly how the process will play out for TV stations in the coming years.  What did the NAB challenge, and what other issues for broadcasters are left to be resolved?

So far, the NAB has only needed to file a notice with the court stating that it is challenging the order.  That is a very limited pleading that gives only the most cursory outline of the NAB’s grounds for its objections to the rules.  Details of all of the grounds for the objections to the ruling do not need to be included in the appeal notice.  Instead, the details will be set out in the NAB’s brief in the case, which will likely not be due for several months.  In the interim, there have been some pleadings asking for expedited processing of the appeal, supported by both the NAB and the FCC, so as to not delay the auction (or to avoid having the auction take place before the appeal is resolved).  From these pleadings, and from an NAB press release and the Blog post referenced above, the principal reasons for the NAB’s challenge can be discerned.  Essentially, there appear to be two issues that are raised.
Continue Reading NAB Brings Court Challenge to Incentive Auction Rules – As Broadcasters Wait For More Details on the Auction Process

Time flies, and more regulatory requirements and comment deadlines in regulatory proceedings are upon us in the month of August.  The regular regulatory deadlines include license renewal for TV and LPTV stations in California, and EEO Public Inspection File yearly reports for stations in California, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin.  Noncommercial TV stations in California and North and South Carolina all have ownership reports on Form 323E due on the August 1, and noncommercial radio stations in Wisconsin and Illinois have ownership report obligations too.  We can also expect that the deadline for submission of Annual Regulatory Fees will be set this month but, as we have not yet heard about that date, the deadline for the fees to be paid may not be until sometime in September.

In addition to the regular filings, there are numerous proceedings in which various government agencies will be receiving comments in proceedings that could impact broadcasters.  Next Wednesday, August 6, the FCC will be taking comments on it Quadrennial Review of the multiple ownership rules. The issues to be considered include the TV ownership rules (including the question of how to deal with Shared Services Agreements) about which we wrote yesterday.  Also to be considered in the proceeding are questions about the radio ownership rules, and the cross-interest rules – including whether to change the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules.  But the FCC is not the only one who will be receiving comments on issues that can affect broadcasters.
Continue Reading August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Renewals and EEO, and Comments on Multiple Ownership, Music Rights, New Class of FM, and Much More

The FCC has just imposed a freeze on the filing of displacement applications for LPTV and TV translator stations, as well as displacement applications for Class A TV stations.  A displacement application is one that is filed to preserve a secondary station’s operations when a full-power station makes changes in its technical facilities that

It is the beginning of another year – and a time to look ahead to look ahead at what broadcasters should expect from Washington in the coming year.  With so many issues on the table, we’ll divide the issues into two parts – talking about FCC issues today, and issues from Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington’s alphabet soup of regulatory agencies in the near future.  In addition, watch these pages for our calendar of regulatory deadlines for broadcasters in the next few days.

Each January, we publish a list of issues for the coming year, and it is not always the case that these issues make it to the top of various piles (literal or figurative) that sit in various offices at the FCC.  As set forth below, there are a number of FCC proceedings that remain open, and could be resolved this year.  But just as often, a good number of these issues sit unresolved to be included, once again, on our list of issues for next year.  While some issues are almost guaranteed to be considered, others are a crap shoot as to whether they will in fact bubble up to the top of the FCC’s long list of pending items. So this list should not be seen as a definitive list of what will be considered by the FCC this year, but instead as an alert as to what might be coming your way this year. Issues unique to radio and TV, and those that could affect the broadcast industry generally, are addressed below.
Continue Reading What’s Up in Washington For Broadcasters in 2014? — Part 1, FCC Issues

Last week the FCC rejected a request by a low power television broadcaster seeking an experimental license to test a technology that would allow broadcast television stations to provide broadband access.  The brief decision, available here, was issued by the FCC’s Media Bureau and rejected the request primarily on the grounds that the technology the LPTV broadcaster sought to test is inconsistent with the existing ATSC standard for transmission of digital television signals in the U.S.  This decision brought about a rebuke by a Wall Street Journal columnist, suggesting that the FCC was not fully exploring one way to rapidly deploy broadband through existing TV licensees, in fears of foregoing the revenues that would come from an auction of reclaimed television spectrum.   This issue arises while the FCC considers the digital conversion of LPTV, and the future of the television spectrum generally.

As has been well known and discussed for at least the last decade, the ATSC standard chosen for digital television broadcast service in the United States is not ideal for mobile service and is not well suited for two-way broadband service.  The current ATSC standard was designed to provide a signal to fixed locations for traditional in-home television watching.   As we have written before, in 2000, in the early days of the digital television conversion, some broadcasters suggested that the system be changed to accommodate a more robust signal allowing better mobile reception and other services that maximize the capacity of the digital channel. That proposal was rejected for fears of slowing the digital conversion, but is seemingly being revisited now. Continue Reading FCC Rejects Request by Low Power Television Broadcaster to Test Technology to Enable Broadband Service Over Broadcast Spectrum