There have been many Washington developments for broadcasters in the last week – and while it was all occurring, our Blog was undergoing a makeover, so some of the articles that we published in the last week may have been missed.  Perhaps the biggest news was the confirmation and swearing in of the new FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler.  Last week, we wrote this article setting out the many legal issues of relevance to broadcasters that will be facing the new Chair.  Among the first issues that will be dealt with is the modification of the FCC’s limits on the foreign ownership of broadcast stations, which is scheduled for consideration by the FCC at their open meeting next Thursday.  We wrote about the issues in that proceeding here.

One of the last issues considered by Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn was the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the revitalization of the AM radio band.  We summarized the issues set out in that proceeding, and wrote in more detail about the proposal likely to have the biggest impact on AM broadcasters – a window for AM stations to seek FM translators.  That article also discussed how the FCC has seemingly decided to pull back from Mattoon waivers as part of that proceeding, and in a separate decision where the FCC decided that Mattoon waivers could not be used if the primary station is an FM.  We’ll write more about the rest of the AM revitalization proposals soon.  And, related to translators, we wrote about the extension of the last day for filing applications in the LPFM filing window to next week. 

As last week was Halloween, and also the 75th Anniversary of the broadcast of Orson Welles War of the Worlds, we wrote about the changing views on broadcast hoaxes, and what the FCC would do if the program was broadcast today.  Speaking of emergency broadcasts, the FCC yesterday issued a number of notices on fake emergency broadcasts.  We’ll write more about that issue shortly.
Continue Reading While Our Blog Was Getting A Makeover, Did You See Our Stories on the New FCC Chairman, Foreign Ownership of Broadcast Stations, AM Revitalization, Orson Welles and the Hoax Rule and More?

The President has nominated Thomas Wheeler as the next FCC Chairman, to become effective after confirmation by the US Senate. What does this mean for broadcasters? As we have said before, one never really knows what issues will drive a Chairman’s agenda. For this Chair, some issues are clear – like dealing with the incentive auction to reclaim some TV spectrum for wireless use, which is inevitably marching forward. Other issues are forced on the FCC – like dealing with the indecency issues still pending after Supreme Court remand, or the multiple ownership quadrennial review still pending at the Commission while waiting for the MMTC study on the effects of media cross ownership on the ability of minorities and other new entrants to get into broadcast ownership. And some are issues that for one reason or another capture the interest or attention or concern of the FCC Chair. Usually, these issues don’t become clear until after the Chairman assumes his position, but that has not stopped many in Washington from speculating what the new Chairman will do once he is confirmed.

Interestingly, the speculation ranges the gamut, from Free Press fearing that he will be too friendly to big business because of his past service as the head of two trade associations – NCTA (the cable television industry trade association) and CTIA (the wireless industry association), to the statement of Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, fearing that he will impose too many regulations on these same big business organizations. In short, the perspective on the nomination seems to be based, at least in part, on the initial perspective of those who muse about what it means.Continue Reading The President Nominates Tom Wheeler to Chair the FCC – What Will It Mean for Broadcasters?