Broadcasters’ Media Ownership Challenge Heading Back to Third Circuit

Posted in Broadcast Attribution, Broadcast Regulation

gavelBroadcasters challenging the FCC’s 2010 quadrennial media ownership order (or lack thereof) are now facing their third time presenting arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  Just over a week before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit was scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case known as Howard Stirk Holdings, LLC v. FCC, the court instead agreed to transfer the case to the Third Circuit.  This will mark the third consecutive quadrennial ownership review settled in the Third Circuit.

The central issues in the case involve the FCC’s failure to complete its 2010 quadrennial review and its adoption of a new attribution standard for television joint sales agreements (JSAs).  As we previously explained, the Commission declined to address most of the issues raised in the 2010 quadrennial ownership review, deferring those issues to its 2014 review (which remains ongoing).  However, the agency did alter its rules to make a television JSA that accounts for more than 15% of the weekly advertising time for the brokered station attributable toward the ownership totals of the same-market brokering station.

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FCC Provides Further Guidance on Reverse Auction Application Process

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Spectrum

auction-block-150x140The FCC has released two additional items to guide broadcasters through the process of applying to participate in the reverse auction.

  • First, the Commission released the Application Instructions that accompany FCC Form 177, the reverse auction application.  You can view screenshots of the application here.   In addition to the application itself, there is also: (1) a form for channel sharing hosts to submit their certifications; and (2) a form with additional certifications for Class A channel sharing hosts.
  • Second, the FCC has launched an interactive tutorial to walk potential applicants through the application process.

As a reminder, the FCC will begin accepting reverse auction applications at Noon ET on December 8, 2015.  Broadcasters must submit their applications by 6:00 p.m. ET on January 12, 2016 to be eligible to participate in the auction.

Update: This post was updated on 11/21 to reflect the approval by the Office of Management and Budget of the proposed Form 177.

FCC Postpones Reverse Auction Application Workshop

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Spectrum

FCCFollowing up on yesterday’s announcement that the reverse auction application window will be delayed, the FCC is postponing its reverse auction application workshop, originally scheduled for November 17, 2015.  The workshop will now be held on December 8, 2015, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

If you already pre-registered to attend the November 17th workshop, no further action is required.  Otherwise, you can register to attend the December 8 workshop in person by sending an e-mail to auction1001@fcc.gov with the attendee names, company affiliations, and the subject line “Reverse Auction Workshop.”

The workshop will also be available on the FCC’s website, http://www.fcc.gov/live.

FCC Adjusts Reverse Auction Prices; Extends Application Deadline

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Spectrum

Auction BlockEarlier today, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing revisions to the coverage area and population served of each television station to be protected in the repacking process.

The revisions are the result of changes to the underlying data of five stations:  WNJU, Linden, New Jersey (new geographic location and parameters); KOHD, Bend, Oregon (channel 51 move); KPXE-TV, Kansas City, Missouri (channel 51 move); WPXA-TV, Rome, Georgia (channel 51 move); KWSU-TV, Pullman, Washington (antenna height change); and KEMO-TV, Santa Rosa, California (discrepancy between station’s DTS facilities and information in Commission databases).  In addition, WAZE, Madisonville, Kentucky, submitted a request to voluntarily downgrade from Class A to low power television, making it ineligible for the auction.

The inclusion of new parameters for WNJU created a huge ripple effect, as WNJU became the baseline station upon which all other station’s opening prices were calculated.  The revised pricing data is available here.

Because the FCC previously committed to provide broadcasters with at least 60 days between the release of pricing data and the application deadline, the Commission has revised the reverse auction application window to open at noon ET on December 8, 2015 and close at 6:00 p.m. ET on January 12, 2016.  The Commission also pushed back the forward auction application filing window to noon ET on January 26, 2016 through 6:00 p.m. ET on February 9, 2016.  The FCC did not change the March 29, 2016 deadline for broadcasters to submit their binding bids for the first round of the auction.

So, what does it all mean? Continue Reading

Deadlines Announced for Broadcast Foreign Ownership Rulemaking Comments

Posted in Broadcast Attribution, Broadcast Regulation, Foreign Ownership, Transactions

In a post last week, we told you that the Federal Communications Commission had issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing to streamline the process for broadcast companies to obtain Commission consent to exceed the 25% benchmark for foreign investment in their parent companies.  Today, the NPRM was published in the Federal Register, and the deadlines for comments were announced.  Comments will be due on December 21, 2015, and Reply Comments will be due on January 20, 2016.

FCC Creates New Opportunities for AM Stations to Obtain FM Translators; Seeks Comment on Additional Revitalization Proposals

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Broadcast Technology

RadioOn October 23, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) adopted its long-awaited First Report and Order, Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making (FNPRM), and Notice of Inquiry (NOI) in the AM revitalization proceeding. Most notably, the Report and Order provides two opportunities for AM broadcasters to obtain FM translators—first through a modification window in early 2016 followed by a new application window in 2017. The FNPRM and NOI portions of the item, meanwhile, seek comment on several additional proposals to strengthen existing AM stations and options for utilizing the expanded band. Comments in response to the FNPRM and NOI will be due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments 30 days later.

While the Report and Order provides some opportunities for AM stations, it also presents several challenges, discussed below, that broadcasters should consider and immediately incorporate into their short-term and mid-range planning. Moreover, the Commission rejected calls to migrate AM radio to VHF channels 5 and 6, reasoning that: (1) such migration could interfere with the upcoming television incentive auction; and (2) AM radio has certain technical advantages over other media, including wide area coverage by some stations that should be preserved. Continue Reading

FCC Proposes to Streamline Foreign Ownership Approval Process for Broadcasters, Creating Potential for New Investment Opportunities

Posted in Broadcast Attribution, Broadcast Regulation, Foreign Ownership, Transactions

On October 22, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”) proposing to simplify the process for broadcast companies to obtain Commission consent to exceed the 25% benchmark set by Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act for foreign investment in their parent companies.  The NPRM also seeks comment on the methodology that all companies subject to Section 310(b)(4) must use to determine their aggregate level of foreign ownership.

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Quick Thoughts About Opening Reverse Auction Prices

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Spectrum

Auction BlockOn Friday, the FCC released opening prices for each auction-eligible full power and Class A television station.  A list of the prices is available here.

We broke out our calculators to make some sense of these opening price offers and provide the following quick analysis:

  • WCBS-TV received the highest price in the country — $900 million.   This is the result of a change in the FCC’s methodology to ensure that a UHF station received the maximum price offer.  Otherwise, WABC-TV, as the station with the greatest volume, would have received the $900 million price–but that price would have been reduced to $540 million to account for the fact that WABC-TV is a VHF station.
  • Prices go down fairly quickly from there.  Only eight stations–all in the New York DMA–will receive opening prices in excess of $800 million, and just five more will receive opening prices above $700 million.
  • The average opening price to go off the air is $182 million.
  • The FCC has determined that 325 stations are not needed under any scenario and therefore will not receive prices to participate in the auction.  21 of these stations are assigned to the top-25 DMAs, including one assigned to the Los Angeles DMA.
  • Remember, these are only opening prices.  Stations will see their prices go down each round until they can no longer be repacked in their “home band,” at which point they will be conditionally frozen at the current price.

FCC Modernizes Contest Rules

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Contests

On September 17, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) unanimously approved a Report and Order (R&O) modernizing its Contest Rule.  As originally Http://promulgated in 1976, the Contest Rule required broadcasters to periodically announce on-air the material terms of a licensee-conducted contest (material terms include how to enter, eligibility restrictions, entry deadline dates, prize information, time and means of winner selection, and tie-breaking procedures).  Under the revised Contest Rule, radio and television stations will have the option to disclose material contest terms on any Internet website readily accessible to the public (including the station or licensee’s website), provided that they satisfy certain requirements.  Chief among these is a mandate that broadcasters posting material contest terms online also periodically announce the website address where the terms are posted.  Stations may continue to broadcast material terms disclosures on-air, but are no longer required to do so.  The Commission heralded the change as “another step to modernize [its] rules to reflect how Americans access and consume information in the 21st century,” and stated an intent to “afford[] broadcasters more flexibility in the manner of their compliance with” the Contest Rule “while giving consumers improved access to important contest information.”      Continue Reading