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Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: July 11, 2020 to July 17, 2020


This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: July 11, 2020 to July 17, 2020

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Sat 18 Jul 2020 7:27 pm

Here are some of the FCC regulatory and legal actions of the last week—and congressional action in the coming 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.

  • The Media Bureau reminded broadcasters that July 13, 2021—the hard deadline for LPTV stations and TV translators to transition to digital—is one year away. Stations that have not yet constructed a digital facility must cease analog television operations no later than July 13, 2021 and remain silent until construction is completed.  The Public Notice details the steps stations must take if they may not meet the deadline due to delays with obtaining zoning or other approvals, inability to obtain equipment, financial hardship, the need to modify their current permits for digital operations, and similar constraints.  (Public Notice)  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • The FCC issued a reminder that cable and satellite TV operators must, after July 31, 2020, deliver certain notices to TV stations by email. This rule change syncs with the FCC’s requirement that TV broadcasters post to their public files, by July 31, 2020, an email address to receive notices from cable and satellite operators relating to carriage matters including must-carry and retransmission consent elections.  (Public Notice)  (Report and Order)  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • Clarifications and rule changes regarding Next Generation TV (ATSC 3.0), that were released in June, become effective on August 17. The FCC provided additional guidance on waivers (“No Viable Local Simulcasting Partner” and “’Reasonable Efforts’ to Preserve Service”) of the local simulcasting rules to broadcasters deploying Next Gen TV, declined to allow the use of vacant broadcast channels for Next Gen TV deployment, and clarified that the “significantly viewed” status of a Next Gen TV station will not change if it moves its ATSC 1.0 simulcast channel to a host facility.  (Federal Register)  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • The Media Bureau set aside a grant of consent to assign an FM license and remanded the assignment application to the Bureau for further proceedings after learning more about the proposed assignor’s criminal conviction. This is a good reminder that the FCC can—and will—consider even non-FCC-related wrongdoing when evaluating applications, and generally it will not allow a person with character issues to profit from the sale of a broadcast station.  (Order)
  • Eighteen radio stations in Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee were warned that their licenses will expire if they do not file license renewal applications by midnight on August 1, 2020. Stations in these three states were required to file applications for license renewal by April 1, 2020 for terms expiring on August 1, 2020, and these stations did not meet the required deadline.  This is a good reminder to check the date that your license renewal application is due and remember to timely file that application.  (Public Notice)
  • Two “Broadcast Internet” items were published in the Federal Register.
    • The first item, a declaratory ruling, makes clear that television spectrum leased for datacasting does not trigger FCC multiple ownership issues. (Declaratory Ruling)
    • The second item, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeks comment generally on the industry’s ideas for potential uses of the datacasting potential of ATSC 3.0, what the FCC has termed the Broadcast Internet, and what regulatory barriers exist to deployment of new services. Comments and reply comments are due by August 17 and August 31 respectively.  (NPRM)(Broadcast Law Blog on Broadcast Internet)
  • Chairman Ajit Pai announced the items the Commission will consider at its August 6 Open Meeting. Two items relevant to broadcasters made it to the agenda.(Blog)  (Tentative Agenda and Draft Items)
    • The Commission will vote on an order to eliminate the radio duplication rule for AM stations, while retaining the rule for FM stations. The Chairman notes that the realities of the marketplace and technical challenges faced by AM broadcasters point to elimination of the rule. The current rule prohibits a radio station in one service (either AM or FM) from duplicating more than 25% of the weekly programming of another station in the same service, if there is more than 50% overlap of the principal community contour of either of the stations. We wrote about this proposal here.  (draft Report and Order)
    • The second item to be voted is an attempt to clear what many might consider “regulatory underbrush” by eliminating a rule that requires a broadcaster who owns a unique tower site to share that site with competing local stations. The Commission believes there has never been a case where there was never a case where this rule was used as there was never a showing that a site was unique and, as no broadcast licensees submitted comments during the rulemaking, it plans to abolish the rule.  (draft Report and Order)
  • We wrote on the blog about some issues that businesses of many stripes should consider as more of normal life shifts online, namely music licensing and unlicensed use of spectrum. Music license holders need to review carefully the licenses they hold to be sure that the new activities they are involved in due to the pandemic, including conducting business and other public gatherings on ZOOM and similar platforms, are covered by the rights they hold.  Similarly, businesses that have shifted to serving customers outdoors need to be mindful of their spectrum use (particularly regarding unlicensed low power FM broadcasts) and not run afoul of the FCC’s permitted uses.  You may wish to share our blog post with your advertisers and clients that are dealing with the concerns we discuss in the article.  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • The FCC took a victory lap now that the 39-month post-incentive auction repacking of the television band has come to a close. In Chairman Ajit Pai’s remarks before the American Consumer Institute Center for Citizen Research and in a news release, the FCC touted the success of the repack and thanked the broadcast and wireless industries, the tower crews, the equipment manufacturers, the radio frequency engineers, and the Commission staff that made the repack possible.  Chairman Pai acknowledged the difficulties encountered—and overcome—along the way and how all parties pulled together to accomplish what was once seen as a task tied to an impossible-to-meet deadline.  (News Release)  (Remarks)  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • Broadcasters planning to provide on-the-ground coverage of the upcoming national political conventions in Charlotte, NC, Jacksonville, FL, and Milwaukee, WI, and the 2021 Presidential Inauguration in Washington, DC must coordinate their frequency and spectrum use with Louis Libin, the newly-named special frequency coordinator and RF spectrum manager for these events. The FCC established a single point of contact for Broadcast Auxiliary System operations coordination to manage spectrum congestion and alleviate harmful interference.  Libin can be reached at (516) 374-6400 and louislibin@broad-comm.com.  (Public Notice)

And, next week, be aware that this activity is taking place on Capitol Hill:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee on July 22 will vote on Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination to another five-year term at the FCC. Should the nomination be voted favorably by the committee, the Commissioner’s nomination moves on to consideration by the full Senate.  (Executive Session)

 

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