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What the FCC Shutdown Means for Broadcasters

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

As a result of the partial government shutdown, the Federal Communications Commission suspended most operations yesterday, January 3, 2019, and most Commission staffers are furloughed.  Despite the shutdown, many FCC computer systems will remain operative, and certain deadlines will remain unaltered.  For example, staff involved with spectrum auctions are unaffected by the lapse in funding,… Continue Reading

President Trump’s “S&!%hole” Remark Shines New Light on FCC’s Ambiguous Policy on Profanity/Indecency

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment

Broadcasters found themselves facing a conundrum on Thursday when President Trump, in a meeting with Congressional leaders about immigration, reportedly referred to Haiti and certain African countries as “shithole countries.”  24-hour cable networks immediately reported on the President’s comments, repeating the crass term and even including it on their lower-thirds.  Unlike their cable, newspaper, online… Continue Reading

AM Revitalization Second Report and Order Would Relax Siting Rules for FM Translators

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

Yesterday, the FCC released the proposed text for the Second Report and Order in the Revitalization of the AM Radio Service proceeding. This text was released at the same time that it is being circulated to commissioners, as part of new Chairman Pai’s pilot program to increase transparency at the Commission. The proposed Second Report and… Continue Reading

Wiley Rein Encourages FCC to Ease Anti-Collusion Rules

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

This morning, on behalf of Wiley Rein, I filed a letter encouraging the FCC to issue a formal declaration that, with the final stage rule satisfied, no communications by broadcasters about the reverse auction can violate the Commission’s prohibition on certain auction-related communications.  The Incentive Auction has handcuffed the broadcast television industry in many respects… Continue Reading

NTIA Concludes UAS Multistakeholder Process; Releases Consensus Document on Voluntary Best Practices

Posted in Uncategorized

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has concluded its multistakeholder process on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and released a consensus document proposing voluntary best practices for UAS privacy, transparency, and accountability. The best practices document is the product of a 13-month process that included a request for public comment, several public meetings, and the… Continue Reading

The New Online Public File Rules Go Into Effect on June 24, 2016

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Political Broadcasting

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) has announced that its new online public file rules, adopted in January of this year, will go into effect on June 24, 2016. Beginning on June 24, 2016, the following entities must place all new public file material into the online public file database: Commercial Radio Stations located… Continue Reading

FAA Grounding Commercial UAS on Websites, YouTube

Posted in Broadcast Technology, Online Video

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently stepped up enforcement efforts against Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) operators engaged in unauthorized “commercial” operations. The FAA’s current regulatory scheme permits hobby and recreational use of UAS but requires commercial UAS users to receive FAA authorization before beginning operations. Two recent regional office enforcement actions against UAS hobbyists… Continue Reading

Closed Captioning, Emergency Information Requirements Among Numerous Upcoming FCC Deadlines

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, MVPD Regulation, Online Video

Broadcasters and MVPDs face numerous FCC deadlines in the upcoming weeks and months related to accessibility and the CALM Act.  Below, we briefly discuss each deadline and then provide a summary table. Closed Captioning Quality:  On March 16, 2015, new rules regulating the quality of closed captions under four non-technical standards — (1) accuracy, (2)… Continue Reading

FCC Issues Proposed Rules for Radio, Cable, and DBS Online Public File

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, MVPD Regulation, Political Broadcasting

Wasting little time after an August Public Notice, the FCC issued an NPRM today proposing to require broadcast radio stations, satellite radio operators, and cable and DBS operators to post their public inspection files to the FCC’s online database. Today the online public file requirements apply only to broadcast television stations, however, the FCC “now… Continue Reading

FCC Announces New Wireless Microphone Proceeding

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Broadcast Technology, Spectrum

The FCC announced today a new rulemaking proceeding designed to address the long-term needs of wireless microphone users.  The new NPRM comes on the heels of the Incentive Auction Order, where the Commission decided to eliminate the current two reserved channels for wireless microphones.  In a news release, the FCC acknowledges that “following the incentive… Continue Reading

UAS Takes Flight for Film Companies

Posted in Broadcast Technology, First Amendment, Privacy

Today, the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”) granted exemptions for six aerial photo and video production companies working in the movie and television industries to operate commercial unmanned aircraft systems (“UAS”) under specific conditions.  Under the current law, civil operation of UAS in U.S. airspace is banned unless the FAA grants an exemption under Section 333… Continue Reading

What to Expect From President Obama’s Executive Order on “Drone” Privacy

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Broadcast Technology, First Amendment, Privacy

Last week, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested Americans should be more concerned about their privacy being invaded by the spread of drones, stating that “frightening” changes in surveillance technology should encourage citizens to take a more active role in the privacy debate.  She said she’s particularly troubled by the potential for commercial and… Continue Reading

Where To From Here? Next Steps in the FCC Incentive Auction

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Spectrum, Transactions

It has been more than four months now since the FCC adopted a Report and Order for the forthcoming incentive auction of television broadcast spectrum.  The Report and Order provided a framework for the reverse auction, where television stations will bid to relinquish some or all of their spectrum rights; the forward auction, where wireless… Continue Reading

Reminder: Must Carry/Retrans Election Notices Due October 1

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, MVPD Regulation

Broadcasters have less than three weeks to send election notices to cable and DBS operators.  The election notices inform those operators of a broadcaster’s choice between must carry and retransmission consent and cover the January 1, 2015 through December 31, 2017 cycle. Note that a commercial station that fails to send an election notice to… Continue Reading

October 1 EEO Deadlines Fast Approaching

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Employment

A reminder that certain radio and television stations face upcoming FCC EEO reporting deadlines. Annual EEO Public File Report Radio and television station employment units (SEUs) located in the Virgin Islands, Florida, Puerto Rico, Iowa, Missouri, Alaska, Guam, Hawaii, Oregon, Samoa, and Washington with five or more full-time employees must prepare by Wednesday, October 1, 2014… Continue Reading

What Broadcasters Don’t Know About Political Advertisers Can’t Hurt Them (At Least With the FCC)

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment, Political Broadcasting

Broadcasters are not required to affirmatively investigate the identity of entities purchasing political advertising time, the FCC’s Media Bureau has reaffirmed.  In a letter dismissing complaints against two television stations, FCC political chief Bobby Baker stated that, “unless furnished with credible, unrefuted evidence that a sponsor is acting at the direction of a third party,… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comment on Extending Online Public File to Radio Stations and MVPDs

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, MVPD Regulation

The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice seeking comment on whether it should initiate a rulemaking proceeding that would require broadcast radio stations, cable systems, and other MVPDs to post their public inspection files to the FCC’s online database. Currently, the online public file requirements apply only to broadcast television stations.  The Public Notice comes… Continue Reading

Reminder: June 2, 2014 EEO Deadlines

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Employment

Certain radio and television stations face an upcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) annual reporting deadline on Monday, June 2, 2014: Annual EEO Public File Report Radio and television station employment units (SEUs) located in Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the… Continue Reading

Comments Due By June 26 On Whether FCC Should Continue to Enforce Network Non-Duplication and Syndicated Exclusivity Rules

Posted in Broadcast Regulation

Update: The FCC has extended the deadline for comments to June 26 and for reply comments to July 24. The Federal Communications Commission wants to know if it should have an ongoing role in the enforcement of network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity agreements.  In a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), the FCC asks whether… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Aggregate Contribution Limits

Posted in Advertising Issues, First Amendment

The Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission this week, striking down the federal aggregate contribution limits as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.  Importantly, the base contribution limits—that is, the amount an individual may contribute to a specific federal candidate, political party, or political action committee—remain unchanged and were not… Continue Reading

FCC Acts to Attribute Television JSAs and Prohibit Joint Retransmission Consent Agreements; Initiates 2014 Quadrennial Ownership Review

Posted in Broadcast Attribution, Broadcast Regulation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) today took actions that implicate media ownership and television retransmission consent negotiations.  The FCC adopted: Orders that will: (1) make television joint sales agreements (JSAs) attributable where a brokering station sells more than 15% of the advertising time for a brokered station; and (2) effectively prohibit top-four television… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comment on Repacking Timeline and Expenses

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Broadcast Technology, Spectrum

If hundreds of television stations had to modify their facilities and change their broadcast channels at roughly the same time, how long would it take and how much would it cost?  The FCC wants to know, and it is seeking input from broadcasters and other stakeholders to find out. On March 20, 2014, the FCC’s… Continue Reading

Risk Still Hovers Over Use of Drones for Newsgathering

Posted in Broadcast Technology, Privacy

In last night’s 60 Minutes piece, Drones Over America, Morley Safer aptly described the “drone show” as “part sci-fi, part video extravaganza, and part old-fashioned sales pitch, reflecting the steady movement of the technology from military to civilian use.”  Viewers saw breathtaking pictures of Niagara Falls, Greenwich Village, Times Square, and surfers in Hawaii.  I… Continue Reading

Drones for Commercial Use—Not Yet Legally Off the Ground

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Broadcast Technology, First Amendment, Privacy, Spectrum

Drones are making headlines.  Following the story of the off-duty Connecticut television station photographer who has now filed a federal lawsuit against the Harford police alleging civil rights violations because they stopped him from using his drone at the scene of a fatal car accident, I’m reflecting.  Back to the days when I was advocating… Continue Reading