Here are some of the regulatory developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • On November 12, the notice was published in the Federal Register of the lifting of the filing freeze for certain

It has been a busy week for regulatory actions affecting broadcasters.  Here are some of the significant developments of the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC held a virtual Open Meeting on Tuesday, voting to approve an

A freeze on technical improvements by full-power TV stations is about to come to an end after more than 15 years. Television stations have been unable to improve their coverage areas by a freeze first instituted in 2004 to allow the FCC to deal with a stable database of television stations during the transition to digital operations.  After that, the freeze was soon reinstated to facilitate the incentive auction and subsequent repacking of the TV band into less spectrum so that TV channels above 37 could be auctioned for use for new wireless communications technologies.  The FCC’s Media Bureau yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing that it will finally lift the filing freeze – that thaw to be effective 15 days after the Public Notice is published in the Federal Register.

Specifically, the Bureau will lift the restrictions on the following types of applications:

  • Petitions for rulemaking to change channels in the DTV Table of Allotments (where a station moves from one channel to another) or petitions to swap channels between two existing stations.
  • Petitions for rulemaking for new DTV allotments which could give broadcasters the opportunity to apply for new TV stations.
  • Petitions for rulemaking to change communities of license.
  • Modification applications that increase a full power or Class A station’s service area beyond an area that is already served.


Continue Reading FCC to Lift Freeze on TV Station Technical Improvement Applications

While the end of the year is just about upon us, that does not mean that broadcasters can ignore the regulatory world and celebrate the holidays all through December. In fact, this will be a busy regulatory month, as witnessed by the list of issues that we wrote about yesterday to be considered at the FCC meeting on December 14. But, in addition to those issues, there are plenty of other deadlines to keep any broadcaster busy.

December 1 is the due date for all sorts of EEO obligations. By that date, Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees need to place their Annual EEO Public File Reports into the public file (their online public file for TV stations and large-market radio and for those other radio stations that have already converted to the online public file). In addition, EEO Mid-Term Reports on FCC Form 397 are due to be filed at the FCC on December 1 by Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont; and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.  We wrote more about the Mid-Term EEO Report here.
Continue Reading December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO, TV and Translator Filing Windows, Ancillary Revenue Reports, Main Studio Rule Effective Date, Copyright Office Take-Down Notice Registration and More

The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice announcing the opening of its window for full-power and Class A TV stations not repacked during the incentive auction to improve their facilities – the first opportunity to do so since the FCC froze TV minor change applications in 2013 in anticipation of the incentive auction. We wrote

For well over four years, television stations have not been able to file applications to upgrade their technical facilities as the FCC froze such applications as it wanted to preserve a stable database of TV facilities while it conducted the Incentive Auction and implemented the repacking of the TV band. For TV stations affected by the repacking, the FCC has opened two windows allowing repacked stations to change and maximize their technical facilities on their new channels, the second of which will end on November 2 (see our article here). It was generally expected that the next window to open would be one for the filing by LPTV and TV translator stations displaced by the repacking of full-power stations to find new channels on which they could operate. However, the FCC was approached by LPTV and translator advocates who worried that these stations would file their displacement applications, get construction permits and start to construct new facilities on new channels, only to again be displaced when the FCC lifted its freeze on the filing of applications for new facilities by full-power stations not affected by the repacking. They feared that the four years of pent up demand would cause a flood of applications by full-power stations, some of which might displace LPTVs and TV translators on their new displacement channels. To relieve some of that pent up demand by full-power and Class A stations not affected by the repacking, before the LPTV/translator displacement window, the FCC’s Media Bureau yesterday issued a Public Notice announcing that it will temporarily lift the freeze to allow applications by full-power and Class A TV stations that were not affected by the repacking.

The Public Notice does not specify the date for this lifting of the freeze. Instead, that date will be announced in another public notice specifying the limited period during which the freeze will be lifted.  Applications filed after the lifting of the freeze will apparently be processed in the same way as normal minor change applications, on a first-come, first-serve basis. The lifting of the freeze will also allow the FCC to process construction permit applications filed by TV stations before the imposition of the freeze in April 2013 – applications that have been sitting at the FCC since that time.
Continue Reading FCC Announces That It Will Lift Filing Freeze on TV Station Modification Applications before LPTV/TV Translator Displacement Window

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

With broadcasters making their way to the NAB Convention in Las Vegas, the FCC on Friday provided one topic for conversation among TV broadcasters – issuing a Public Notice imposing a freeze – effective immediately – on the filing of any technical application by any licensee or permittee of a full power TV station or a Class A station if that application which would increase their protected service area. The freeze was imposed, in the words of the FCC, in order to “facilitate analysis of repacking methodologies and to assure that the objectives of the broadcast television incentive auction are not frustrated.”  In other words, the FCC wants a stable TV database from which it can begin the process of repacking TV stations into a smaller portion of the TV spectrum to facilitate the auction of parts of the TV spectrum recaptured after an incentive auction for wireless broadband purposes.

According to the notice, the Media Bureau will no longer accept the following types of applications:

·       Modification applications (and amendments to pending modification applications) by full power and Class A television broadcast licensees and permittees for changes to existing service areas that would increase a full power station’s noise-limited contour, or a Class A station’s protected contour, in one or more directions beyond the area resulting from the station’s present parameters as represented in its authorizations (licenses and/or construction permits).

·       Class A displacement applications that would increase a station’s protected contour.  (However, the Bureau will continue to accept Class A minor change applications to implement the digital transition (flash cut and digital companion channel) subject to current rule limitations.  

The Notice states that the Bureau will consider requests for waivers of the freeze, on a case-by-case basis “when a modification application is necessary or otherwise in the public interest for technical or other reasons to maintain quality service to the public, such as when zoning restrictions preclude tower construction at a particular site or when unforeseen events, such as extreme weather events or other extraordinary circumstances, require relocation to a new tower site.” So, if your tower collapses and you need to move to a different site, a waiver may be possible, but improvements for the sake of improving a station’s signal will most likely be prohibited by the freeze.


Continue Reading FCC Imposes Freeze on Television Station Technical Improvements – Preparing for Repacking the TV Spectrum to Allow for Spectrum Auctions