Effective Date Announced for Recordkeeping Requirements for Non-CPB NCEs Conducting Third Party Fundraising

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

Effective November 13, 2017, NCE stations must comply with the recordkeeping requirements established by the new rule that allows them to conduct limited on-air fundraising activities that interrupt regular programming to benefit third-party non-profit organizations. Specifically, non-CPB NCE stations that conduct third-party fundraising must place in their public files, on a quarterly basis, the following information for each third-party fundraising program: the date, time, and duration of the fundraiser; the type of fundraising activity; the name of the non-profit organization benefitted by the fundraiser; a brief description of the specific cause or project, if any, supported by the fundraiser; and, to the extent that the NCE station participated in tallying or receiving any funds for the non-profit group, an approximation of the total funds raised.

These requirements were announced in April when the FCC adopted a Report and Order (which we wrote about here) relaxing its rule prohibiting NCE stations from conducting fundraising activities that substantially alter or suspend regular programming and that are designed to benefit an entity other than the station itself. Before going into effect, however, the new recordkeeping requirements needed approval by the Office of Management and Budget pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act. The Federal Register recently announced that this approval has been received and that the new recordkeeping requirements will go into effect on November 13.

FCC to Vote on Two Media Regulation Modernization Items at October Open Meeting; Draft Items Available

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

FCCOn October 3, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) announced its tentative agenda for the October Open Meeting, which includes two items of interest to broadcasters: (1) elimination of the Main Studio Rule, and (2) proposed updates to the rules governing ancillary/supplementary services provided by television broadcast stations and broadcast public notices.

As it has in recent months under Chairman Pai’s pilot program, the Commission has released the draft text for each item slated for the October meeting.

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FCC Chairman Pai Calls on Apple to Activate FM Chips in iPhones

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Broadcast Technology

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, citing public safety concerns, has taken the unusual step of releasing a statement urging Apple to activate the FM radio chips already present in iPhone devices.

In today’s statement, Chairman Pai explained that “[w]hen wireless networks go down during a natural disaster, smartphones with activated FM chips can allow Americans to get vital access to life-saving information.”  He went on to note that “Apple is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted” activating FM chips.  He expressed hope that “the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria” and quoted a newspaper editorial: “Do the right thing, Mr. Cook. Flip the switch. Lives depend on it.”

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Second Post-Auction Filing Window to Open October 2

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

Repacked television stations that have been waiting patiently for their turn to request an alternate post-auction channel or an expanded facility–your time is coming.  The second filing window for the post-Incentive Auction repack will open on Tuesday, October 3, 2017 and continue through Thursday, November 2, 2017.

The second window is open to all television stations that were reassigned to new channels in the Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice (including stations that submitted successful bids to move to a VHF channel). Continue Reading

FTC Sends (Another) Warning That Endorsers Must Disclose Connections to Products, Brands, or Services in Any Form of Media

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Contests

When thinking about the regulations they must comply with, most broadcasters focus primarily, if not exclusively, upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But there is at least one other federal agency that deserves attention, and that is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is particularly true when endorsements, contests, and other marketing activities are in play, as well as when such activities occur not only on-air, but also on digital platforms including social media. Activities involving social media “influencers” and other endorsement-related issues have for some time been subject to increasing FTC scrutiny, as we have explained before (here and here). While one might have predicted that the FTC would pay less attention to these issues in the new administration, three recent developments suggest otherwise. 

Of most potential interest to broadcasters and other media companies – particularly those with an online presence – is an update to the FTC’s FAQs (Endorsement FAQs) concerning compliance with the agency’s Guidelines Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (Endorsement Guides). The Endorsement FAQs were last revised in April 2015, and the new version serves as a helpful reminder regarding basic obligations and provides some useful clarifications.  Here are five key takeaways: Continue Reading

FCC Delays 2017 Biennial Broadcast Ownership Reports

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

Broadcasters will have a few more months than normal this year to prepare and file their biennial ownership reports.  On September 1, 2017, the FCC’s Media Bureau announced that the window to file ownership reports will not open until December 1, 2017, which was the previously scheduled deadline.  Broadcasters will have until March 2, 2018 to complete their reports.

The delay is a result of the FCC’s migration of biennial ownership reporting from its Consolidated Public Database System (“CDBS”) to its Licensing and Management System (“LMS”).  Continue Reading

Reminder: 2017 Must-Carry and Retransmission Consent Elections

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

On or before October 1, 2017, each full-power commercial television station must make an election between must carry and  retransmission consent. In addition, although noncommercial television stations do not have retransmission consent rights, they must send carriage notices to DBS (and other satellite operators) on or before October 1, 2017 in order to obtain (or maintain) carriage on the satellite operator’s system.  The up-coming election covers the period from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2020.  Commercial stations that fail to send an election notice to cable operators will default to must-carry status.  Stations that fail to send an election notice to DBS operators will default to retransmission consent status (DBS operators are not required to carry a station if it fails to make an election, though they must engage in good-faith negotiations for carriage).   There is no required language for election notices sent to cable operators.  Notices to DBS operators must include: (a) the station’s call sign; (b) the name of an appropriate contact person at the station; (c) the station’s address for purposes of receiving official correspondence; (d) the station’s community of license; (e) the station’s DMA assignment; and (f) a statement indicating whether the station is electing must-carry or retransmission consent. Copies of notices must be uploaded to stations’ online public files by October 1, 2017 and must remain in the public file until the end of the next election cycle.


FTC Updates COPPA Compliance Guide; Emphasizes Broad Reach of Rule

Posted in Privacy


This month, the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) updated its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”) Rule Compliance Guide in its ongoing effort to ensure that COPPA reflects changes in technology, including the Internet of Things (“IoT”).  Although the FTC’s update confirms that COPPA applies to IoT devices, it does not provide meaningful guidance to operators regarding how to effectively implement the COPPA requirements in the unique IoT context.

The updates make clear the expansive scope of COPPA. COPPA applies to operators of websites and online services that collect personal information about children under 13. Each of the operative terms in that general statement about COPPA have expansive definitions, according to the FTC. Continue Reading

FCC Public Notice Asks What Media Regulations to Eliminate

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, MVPD Regulation

On May 18, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Public Notice initiating a review of its rules applicable to television and radio broadcasters, cable operators, and satellite television providers. The stated purpose of the review is “to eliminate or modify regulations that are outdated, unnecessary or unduly burdensome.” In addition to seeking comment on what rules should be modified or repealed generally, the FCC also asked if there are specific rules from which small businesses should receive regulatory relief.

This proceeding almost certainly will cover familiar territory for media entities, including operational rules, notification requirements, the retransmission consent regime, and the program carriage and program access rules. At the same time, given the FCC’s obligation to review its media ownership rules quadrennially, those rules are excluded from the instant review, as are the FCC’s recently adopted video accessibility requirements.

Comments are due by July 5, 2017 and replies are due by August 4, 2017.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the review is designed to overcome “regulatory inertia.” Democrat Commissioner Mignon Clyburn dissented from the Public Notice, however, claiming that “the FCC’s majority starts with a premise that advancing the public interest can only be achieved by clearing the books of rules for the benefit of industry.”

If you are interested in submitting comments, please contact the Wiley Rein attorney who regularly handles your FCC matters or one of the authors of this post.

FCC Proposes Elimination of Broadcast Main Studio Rule

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

Update 6/2/2017: Based on today’s publication in the Federal Register, comments are due on July 3, with reply comments due July 17.

On May 18, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in which it proposed to eliminate the main studio rule for all services (including the associated minimum staffing requirements). Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 15 days later.

Under the main studio rule, AM, FM, and television broadcast stations must maintain a main studio in their community of license, within the station’s principal community contour, or within 25 miles from the reference coordinates of the center of its community of license. Traditionally, the main studio served as the hub for the station’s records and its contact with the community.

The NPRM concludes that “technological innovations have rendered a local studio unnecessary as a means for viewers and listeners to communicate with or access their local stations and to carry out the other traditional functions that they have served.” Accordingly, the NPRM proposes to eliminate the requirement to maintain a main studio with production and transmission facilities and the associated staffing requirements.

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