Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): Access denied for user 'indiamee'@'localhost' (using password: NO) in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872

Warning: mysql_get_server_info(): A link to the server could not be established in /home/indiamee/public_html/e-music/wp-content/plugins/gigs-calendar/gigs-calendar.php on line 872
Indian E-music – The right mix of Indian Vibes… » Television


FCC Announces That It Will Lift Filing Freeze on TV Station Modification Applications before LPTV/TV Translator Displacement Window

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Fri 20 Oct 2017 5:28 pm

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.

The Public Notice also recapped the process for filings in the LPTV/translator Displacement Window (which we summarized here and the full FCC notice about those procedures here).  That process includes the following:

  • Sixty days prior to the opening of the Displacement Window, a Public Notice will provide data identifying locations and channels where LPTV/translator stations likely cannot propose displacement facilities because of the presence of existing non-displaced LPTV/translator stations, full power and Class A television stations, and land mobile operations.
  • LPTV/translator stations can now file minor change applications (that is applications proposing a change in power, antenna height or directionality, or transmitter site location as long as the coverage from the new location overlaps with the current service area) which may allow some stations to eliminate the conditions leading to the displacement (e.g. by moving further from a repacked station or by directionalizing their signal away from such a station).
  • To create a stable database for stations filing in the Displacement Window, approximately 30 days before the Public Notice that will precede the Displacement Window, the FCC will issue another Public Notice freezing the filing of minor change applications by LPTV/translator stations. So, if a minor change will eliminate the need to file a displacement application, an LPTV or translator licensee should look at such a filing now, before the new freeze on minor changes is announced.

For LPTVs and TV translators that need to change channels, with the new window for full-power stations following the lifting of the freeze and all of the other procedural hurdles that need to pass, the Displacement Window now looks like it will not occur until at least late in the first quarter or in the second quarter of 2018. But, presumably, stations filing in that window will have a more stable universe of TV stations from which they can plan their displacement applications. Watch for more developments in the coming weeks on all of these matters and start your preparations now (including discussions with your engineers and attorneys about the subtleties of these processes) for figuring how your station can best take advantage of these upcoming filing windows.

 

Court Rejects Appeal of FCC Decision Not to Mandate Multilingual EAS Alerts – Highlighting Requirement that Broadcasters Report To Their SECC in Early November About Emergency Information to Non-English Speakers

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 18 Oct 2017 5:08 pm

The United States Court of Appeals yesterday issued an order denied the appeal of an FCC order that rejected a requirement that multilingual EAS alerts be provided in every market.  We wrote about the FCC’s proceeding here and here. The Court upheld the FCC’s decision as reasonable, finding that the Commission did not have enough evidence to determine how such alerts should be implemented on a nationwide basis, and noting that the FCC was still reviewing whether to adopt requirements that broadcasters provide alerts in languages other than English in the future. That decision should serve as a reminder that in the FCC order rejecting the call to mandate multilingual EAS alerts in all markets, the Commission did call for broadcasters to supply more information – information that is due in early November.

In 2016, when the FCC rejected the imposition of multilingual EAS alerts, they imposed an obligation on broadcast stations to report to their State Emergency Coordinating Committees (“SECC”) information about what the stations are doing to implement multilingual EAS – including a description of any plans they have to implement such alerts in the future, and whether or not there are significant populations of non-English speaking groups in their communities that would need such alerts. We wrote about that obligation here. The one year deadline would seem to be November 3, one year after the FCC’s order was published in the Federal Register (though an FCC small-business compliance guide summarizing the obligations, released in August, available here, states on the top of page 3 that the deadline is November 6).  In any event, given the Court’s decision relying on the FCC gathering information about the provision of emergency alerts to non-English speaking communities, it is important that stations provide their SECCs by early November.  The FCC’s Small Business Compliance Guide is a good summary of what is required.

Yesterday’s Court decision was a 2-1 decision, with a dissenting judge finding that the FCC already had asked for information about multilingual EAS alerts several times, and did not get it. The dissenting judge thought that the Court should have found that the FCC was unreasonable in once again saying that they were looking for more information with no guarantee that they would receive that information. This dissent highlights the importance that seems to be placed on the upcoming submission of this information to state EAS committees.

Broadcasters need to find out who heads their SECC, and get them the information about multilingual EAS alerts in the next few weeks, so that the SECCs can review their state EAS plans and, where necessary, make changes by next May based on the information in the November reporting, so that broadcasters can better serve non-English speaking populations with emergency alerts.

Two More Paperwork Burdens Proposed for Relaxation Under FCC’s Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative – TV Ancillary and Supplementary Revenue Reports and Public Notice Requirements

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Fri 6 Oct 2017 2:37 pm

In addition to the elimination of the main studio rule (about which we wrote here), another media item is proposed for consideration at the FCC’s October 24 meeting. A draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was released earlier this week proposing two changes in FCC requirements – neither change, in and of itself, offering any fundamental modifications of significant regulation, but both showing that this Commission is looking to eliminate bothersome burdens on broadcasters where those burdens are unnecessary in today’s media world or where they do not serve any real regulatory purpose. One change proposes to limit the requirement for TV stations to file Ancillary and Supplementary Revenue Reports to those stations that actually have such revenue, and the other proposing to eliminate the obligation of broadcasters to publish local public notice of significant application filings in a local newspaper.

The first deals with the filing by TV stations of FCC Form 2100, Schedule G (formerly Form 317), which reports on the ancillary and supplementary services revenue received by the TV station. This revenue is received by data transmission and other non-broadcast uses of the station’s spectrum. The report is necessary as, by law, each station offering such services must pay a fee of 5% of that revenue to the Federal government. So, by December 1 of each year, under current rules, each TV station must file the form stating how much revenue they received from these non-broadcast services. As most TV stations have not monetized their excess digital capacity by making it available for non-broadcast “ancillary and supplementary” services, most stations dutifully submit a report each December saying that they have not received any such revenue. To minimize paperwork burdens, the FCC draft NPRM proposes to amend the rule so that the majority of stations need not file this report simply to say that they have no revenue – the obligation to file the report would apply only to those stations that actually have some revenue to report.

The second proposed change deals with FCC-mandated public notice requirements. When filing significant applications (e.g. applications for approval of a proposed sale of a station through an assignment or transfer, license renewal applications, and applications for new stations or major changes in the facilities of an existing station), most broadcasters have to give public notice of the filing of the application both by broadcasting it on the station and by publishing the notice in a local newspaper in the community that the station serves. The FCC draft NPRM seeks comments on whether to repeal the obligation to give public notice entirely as most of these applications are available through the FCC’s databases (including in the online public file) and public notices, or whether to allow some or all of the notice obligations to be met exclusively through broadcasts on the station, or through a combination of broadcasts and online positing of those notices. The Commission tentatively concludes that some modernization of the requirement is required, but asks a number of questions including whether the type of application and type of station make a difference in what notice obligations should be required (e.g. should newspaper notice be kept only for applications for new stations as the applicant has no station on which to broadcast notice and likely no website on which to post such notice). The FCC also asks, to the extent that public notice obligations are retained, if the rule (which is incredibly confusing to read as it demands different elements in the notices of different types of applications and imposes different broadcast and publication schedules) should be simplified.

The draft NPRM will be considered at the FCC’s October 24 meeting. If adopted at that meeting, comment dates will later be set when the final version of the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.

Two More Paperwork Burdens Proposed for Relaxation Under FCC’s Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative – TV Ancillary and Supplementary Revenue Reports and Public Notice Requirements

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Fri 6 Oct 2017 2:37 pm

In addition to the elimination of the main studio rule (about which we wrote here), another media item is proposed for consideration at the FCC’s October 24 meeting. A draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was released earlier this week proposing two changes in FCC requirements – neither change, in and of itself, offering any fundamental modifications of significant regulation, but both showing that this Commission is looking to eliminate bothersome burdens on broadcasters where those burdens are unnecessary in today’s media world or where they do not serve any real regulatory purpose. One change proposes to limit the requirement for TV stations to file Ancillary and Supplementary Revenue Reports to those stations that actually have such revenue, and the other proposing to eliminate the obligation of broadcasters to publish local public notice of significant application filings in a local newspaper.

The first deals with the filing by TV stations of FCC Form 2100, Schedule G (formerly Form 317), which reports on the ancillary and supplementary services revenue received by the TV station. This revenue is received by data transmission and other non-broadcast uses of the station’s spectrum. The report is necessary as, by law, each station offering such services must pay a fee of 5% of that revenue to the Federal government. So, by December 1 of each year, under current rules, each TV station must file the form stating how much revenue they received from these non-broadcast services. As most TV stations have not monetized their excess digital capacity by making it available for non-broadcast “ancillary and supplementary” services, most stations dutifully submit a report each December saying that they have not received any such revenue. To minimize paperwork burdens, the FCC draft NPRM proposes to amend the rule so that the majority of stations need not file this report simply to say that they have no revenue – the obligation to file the report would apply only to those stations that actually have some revenue to report.

The second proposed change deals with FCC-mandated public notice requirements. When filing significant applications (e.g. applications for approval of a proposed sale of a station through an assignment or transfer, license renewal applications, and applications for new stations or major changes in the facilities of an existing station), most broadcasters have to give public notice of the filing of the application both by broadcasting it on the station and by publishing the notice in a local newspaper in the community that the station serves. The FCC draft NPRM seeks comments on whether to repeal the obligation to give public notice entirely as most of these applications are available through the FCC’s databases (including in the online public file) and public notices, or whether to allow some or all of the notice obligations to be met exclusively through broadcasts on the station, or through a combination of broadcasts and online positing of those notices. The Commission tentatively concludes that some modernization of the requirement is required, but asks a number of questions including whether the type of application and type of station make a difference in what notice obligations should be required (e.g. should newspaper notice be kept only for applications for new stations as the applicant has no station on which to broadcast notice and likely no website on which to post such notice). The FCC also asks, to the extent that public notice obligations are retained, if the rule (which is incredibly confusing to read as it demands different elements in the notices of different types of applications and imposes different broadcast and publication schedules) should be simplified.

The draft NPRM will be considered at the FCC’s October 24 meeting. If adopted at that meeting, comment dates will later be set when the final version of the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.

FCC Releases Draft Order to Abolish Main Studio Rule – To Be Considered at its October 24 Meeting

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 4 Oct 2017 4:40 pm

The FCC yesterday released the agenda for its October 24th Open Meeting, as well as draft orders of the matters to be considered at that meeting. For broadcasters, the single most significant proposal was a draft order (available here) to abolish the requirement that a broadcast station maintain a main studio in close proximity to its city of license that is open to the public and staffed during normal business hours. The FCC’s draft order determines that, in today’s modern world, where much communication with broadcasters is done by phone or electronically, and as stations either have or soon will have their public files available online, there was no longer any need to maintain the rule mandating the main studio. So, if the Commission adopts the draft order at its October 24th meeting, the requirement which has been on the books since 1939 will be eliminated.

Together with the main studio rule, the FCC order would also eliminate the requirement that the station have staff members available at that studio. Instead, the licensee, to maintain contact with their community, must maintain a toll-free number accessible to residents of the station’s city of license. That number must be answered during normal business hours of the station – but the person answering the phone line need not be in the city of license. The FCC urged, but did not require, that the phone line be monitored during other hours as well. The phone line can be shared with multiple stations – so an “800” number available nationwide would seem to meet the requirement.

The FCC also would eliminate local program origination obligations. So station owners need no longer have some physical presence in their community where they can originate programming. The FCC said that technology allows stations to put callers on the air from anywhere, and even to do video through Skype and other similar technology providers. Stations do, however, still need to serve their communities. They still need to maintain Quarterly Issues Programs lists (which, as we wrote here, are due to be placed in a station’s file this quarter by next week). These lists require that the station list the most significant issues facing its community in the past quarter and the programs broadcast by the station addressing each of those issues. Thus, a station will need to continue to monitor, in some way, the issues in their community and broadcast programming addressing those issues – but how they accomplish those requirements, and the location from which they do so, is up to them.

Stations that have fully transitioned to the online public file need no longer keep any physical documents in their communities of license. But stations that have not yet made that transition (with the transition deadline for radio stations in smaller markets, and smaller groups in large markets, being March 1, 2018) must maintain a paper public file in their city of license until all of the documents required to be in the file are transitioned to the online public file. The file must be maintained at a location in their community of license that is open during normal business hours (e.g. a public library or an office for some local business). Small market stations can transition to the online public file now (they need not wait until March 1), so they can eliminate the need to maintain a paper public file in their community if they decide to eliminate their main studio once this rule is adopted and becomes effective.

Note, however, that even for stations that transition to the online public file, there may be some residual paper file obligations. While the FCC eliminated the need to maintain letters from the public, which had to be kept in a paper file, earlier this year (see our article here), for most stations, after March 1 of next year, the only documents not in the online public file will be documents from the political file – as stations need only include in the online public file political documents created after the transition date (see our article here about the new online public file obligations for radio). Older political documents need not be placed in the public file. Those documents need to be kept for 2 years from the date of their creation. For all stations, by March 1, 2020, there should be no need for a physical file at all. For stations that do have “old” political documents, to avoid having to maintain a paper public file in their community, they can upload all old political documents to their online file, even though they are not required to do so.

The rule changes will become effective, if adopted, when they are published in the Federal Register, except for the rules dealing with the public file. Those rules will be effective upon their approval by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act.

If the FCC acts as expected to approve this rule on October 24, many changes in broadcast operations will become permissible. While the changes may allow broadcasters to recognize significant cost savings, we reiterate the FCC’s warning that stations, no matter the physical source from which their programming originates, need to remember that they still have an obligation to serve the interests of their communities. Public interest groups will, no doubt, be watching – so broadcasters beware.

FCC Reminder to Video Programming Distributors – Including Broadcasters – on Accessibility Obligations

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Mon 2 Oct 2017 5:35 pm

With the recent hurricanes and last night’s tragedy in Las Vegas, the FCC Public Notice issued last week reminding all video programmers of the importance of making emergency information accessible to all viewers seems very timely. The public notice serves as a good refresher on all of the obligations of video programmers designed to make emergency information available to members of the viewing audience who may have auditory or visual impairments that may make this information harder to receive. As the FCC also reminds readers of its notice of the ways in which to file complaints against video programming distributors who do not follow the rules, TV broadcasters need to be extremely sensitive to all of these requirements.

What are these obligations? These are some of the obligations highlighted by the FCC’s reminder:

  • For persons who are visually impaired, rules require that emergency information that is visually provided in a newscast also be aurally described in the main audio channel of the station.
  • When emergency information is provided outside of a newscast (e.g. in a crawl during entertainment programming), that information must be accompanied by an aural tone and then an audio version of the emergency information must be broadcast on a secondary audio channel (SAP channel) of a TV station at least twice. See our articles here, here and here about this obligation.
  • For persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, the Commission requires that emergency information provided in the audio portion of a broadcast also be presented visually, through methods including captioning, crawls or scrolls that do not block any emergency information provided through other visual means (like other captions or crawls).
  • For stations that are permitted to use electronic newsroom technique (ENT) captions, where ENT does not provide captions for breaking news and emergency alerts, stations must make emergency information available through some other visual means. See our post here on this obligation.
  • The FCC suggests, but does not require, that stations make emergency information available through multiple means (maps, charts, and other visual information) and in plain language, so that all viewers can understand the nature of any emergency.

Emergency information is described broadly as information “intended to further the protection of life, health, safety, and property, i.e., critical details regarding the emergency and how to respond to the emergency.” The FCC gives the following examples of the types of emergencies that may be covered: “tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, icing conditions, heavy snows, widespread fires, discharge of toxic gases, widespread power failures, industrial explosions, civil disorders, school closings and changes in school bus schedules resulting from such conditions, and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather.” Note that, for the school closings and bus route changes, the FCC has, for now, exempted this information from the requirement that crawls be converted to audio for the SAP channel, given the likely length that such messages would take (see our article here). The kinds of details that trigger these obligations include the areas that will be affected by the emergency, evacuation orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, specific evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take shelter in one’s home, instructions on how to secure personal property, road closures, and how to obtain relief assistance.”

The Commission notes that, in wide-spread emergencies like a hurricane, notices may need to be provided far beyond the local area directly hit by the emergency, as other areas can also be affected by the event.

Paying attention to the rules highlighted here and provided in more detail in the FCC’s Public Notice are very important, not just as it is important for broadcasters to serve all members of the public in their viewing areas, but also because there has been active enforcement in this area. The enforcement of these rules do not appear to be a partisan issue, as certain accessibility obligations have even be made more stringent during the term of this administration otherwise noted for its deregulation in other areas. So pay attention to this important reminder from the FCC.

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Obligations, Repacking Reports and More

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Sun 1 Oct 2017 3:27 pm

The beginning of a calendar quarter always brings numerous regulatory obligations, and October is one of those months with a particularly full set of obligations. All full-power broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial, must complete their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and place these reports into their public inspection files by October 10. These reports are the FCC’s only official record of how a station served its community. They document the broadcaster’s assessment of the most important issues facing their communities, and the programming that they have broadcast to address those issues. Failing to complete these reports was the biggest source of fines during the last license renewal cycle – with fines of $10,000 or more common for stations missing numerous reports during the license renewal term (see, for example, our articles here, here and here). With the public inspection file for all TV stations now being online and the public file of large radio groups in major markets also already converted to being online, the timeliness of the completion of these reports and their inclusion in the public file can now be assessed by the FCC and anyone else who wants to complain about a station’s regulatory compliance (as documents added to the public file are date stamped as to their inclusion, and the FCC has used this stamp to assess station’s compliance in other areas, see our post here). All other radio stations will be converting to the online file by March 1, 2018 and will need to upload this quarter’s reports into the file by that date (along with all others back to your last license renewal, see our post here), meaning the reports they complete this quarter too can be scrutinized from afar. Thus, be sure that you complete this important requirement.

TV stations have the additional quarterly obligation of filing with the FCC by October 10 their Quarterly Children’s Television Reports, Form 398. These reports detail the educational and informational programming directed to children that the station broadcast in the prior quarter. These reports are used to assess the station’s compliance with the current obligation to broadcast at least 3 hours per channel of programming addressing the educational and informational needs of children aged 16 or younger. Late-filed Children’s Television Reports, too, were the source of many fines for TV broadcasters in the last renewal cycle (see, for instance, our articles here and here), so don’t forget this obligation and don’t be late in making the required filings. At the same time, TV stations should also include in their public file documentation showing that they have complied with the limitations on commercialization during children’s programming directed to children 12 and under.

EEO obligations also arise for stations in a number of states. On October 1, radio and TV station employment groups which have stations located in certain states and have 5 or more full-time employees (at least 30 hours per week) need to place in their public inspection file their Annual EEO Public Inspection File Report. This report documents the employment group’s hiring in the prior year, the recruitment sources they used to attract applicants, and the supplemental efforts they took (whether or not they had any employment vacancies) to educate the community about broadcast employment opportunities and qualifications and the other efforts they undertook to train existing employees about EEO requirements and to qualify them for better positions within the broadcast industry. Even though the FCC outreach efforts for job openings have recently been lessened to allow for recruiting to be done solely through online sources (see our post here), the other EEO obligations remain in place (see our post here). Thus, stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees should have placed in their public file their Annual EEO Public Inspection File Report by October 1. For those stations with an online public file, that means that the report has been uploaded to the online public file where it can be reviewed by anyone, anywhere (and all other stations will eventually need to include this EEO Public file reports in their online public file by March 1, as all EEO Public File Reports back to the last license renewal must be uploaded to the file). Stations with websites must also include a link to the latest EEO Public File Report on the homepage of their website.

For certain TV stations with 5 or more full-time employees, and certain radio stations with 11 or more full-time employees, October 2 brings the deadline to file their EEO Mid-Term Report, FCC Form 397 (about which we wrote here). That reports provides the FCC with the last two EEO Public File Reports, and certain information about who administers the EEO plan for the station and EEO complaints filed against the station. Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Iowa and Missouri must file these reports by October 2.

Full-power and Class A TV Stations repacked by the incentive auction have a new obligation that is coming up –the obligation to file by October 10 a Repacking Transition Progress Report, informing the FCC of steps that they have taken to implement the requirement to change in channels ordered by the FCC. We wrote about that obligation here. That filing obligation comes while the window is open for many of these same TV stations to file construction permits for improved facilities on the channels to which they have been assigned, or to seek alternative channels. The filing window ends on November 2. We wrote about that window here.

As in any other month, there are numerous other regulatory obligations that are ongoing, or particular to an individual station. As we wrote here, AM radio operators who filed for new FM translators in the recent window and found that their applications were in conflict with another applicant have an opportunity to resolve their mutual exclusivity through technical changes or settlements. Broadcasters will also be watching the FCC for the release of other decisions dealing with pending matters including reconsideration petitions on the FCC’s ownership rules (see our posts here, here and here), the elimination of the main studio rule (see our posts here and here), the adoption of ATSC 3.0 (see our post here), and potentially other areas for “modernization” under the FCC’s Modernization of Media Regulation initiative. So make sure that you are keeping your eyes open for regulatory developments that affect your operations.

FCC Announces Second Filing Window for Upgrades and New Channels for Repacked TV Stations – October 3 through November 2

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Thu 21 Sep 2017 5:04 pm

The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice (linked here) announcing that it will open the post-Incentive Auction “second filing window” on Tuesday, October 3, 2017.  In this window, any repacked TV station, including stations that changed from UHF to VHF during the incentive auction and repacked Class A stations, can file an amendment to its initial construction permit application (if still pending), or a modification to its construction permit (if granted) to seek an alternate channel or expanded facilities from those specified in the April 13, 2017 Closing and Channel Reassignment Public Notice.   This follows the first window (about which we wrote here) which allowed certain stations that could not construct on their assigned channels to seek new ones, and it precedes a future window for displaced LPTV and TV translators to seek new channels (see our articles here and here).

This window gives TV stations an opportunity to apply for a greater coverage area if such an upgrade is possible without creating interference to any other station.  The window will close at 11:59 pm EDT on Thursday, November 2, 2017.  Repacked stations should now be consulting with their engineers about their options in order to meet the filing deadline.

The Public Notice the requirements and procedures for filing for this second filing window. Some of the issued noted by the FCC include:

  • Applications for expanded facilities are limited to those that qualify as a minor change under the Commission’s rules.  Applications for alternate channels are major change applications and are subject to the local public notice requirements in the Commission’s rules, including a 30-day period for the filing of petitions to deny.
  • Applicants in the second filing window must protect the facilities proposed in construction permit applications that are already on file in prior post-incentive auction filing windows, whether those applications have been granted or remain pending. Applications must also protect facilities specified in applications with “cut-off” protection that were filed before the April 2013 pre-auction freeze on the processing of TV construction permit applications went into effect.  Applications filed in this new window by Class A station must also demonstrate non-interference to previously-proposed LPTV and TV translator facilities.
  • For purposes of the determining mutual exclusivity, the FCC will treat all applications filed during the filing window as being filed on the last day of the window – in other words, applications filed early in the window do not get a preference over those filed later.  In cases of mutual exclusivity (where two applications cannot both be granted because of interference concerns), the FCC will notify the applicants and provide a 90-day settlement period.
  • An applicant filing an incomplete or defective application during the second filing window will be provided with one opportunity to cure any defects in the application.  Failure to cure will result in dismissal of the application.
  • Additional costs incurred in constructing alternate channels or expanded facilities will not be reimbursed by the FCC as part of the repacking reimbursement process. The FCC will reimburse stations only for the costs of replicating their pre-auction facilities, not in improving them.

Obviously, review the notice carefully before filing to make sure that you observe all of the required procedures. This window provides an opportunity for some TV broadcasters to upgrade their service contours. If you are interested to see if there are possibilities for your station, you should be talking with your engineer now to see if you can take advantage of this preferred filing window.

Reminder: Repacking Transition Progress Report Must Be Filed by Repacked TV Stations by October 10

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Wed 20 Sep 2017 4:02 pm

The FCC yesterday issued a Public Notice (available here) reminding all TV stations (including Class A TV stations) that are changing channels as a result of the TV incentive auction, including those receiving compensation from auction payments for moving from UHF to VHF channels, that they must file their first quarterly Transition Progress Report no later than October 10, 2017.  The reports should be filed on FCC Form 2100 – Schedule 387, which is now available by logging in to the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/login.html).  The Transition Progress Report form just became available in LMS this week.

Additional reports will be due on the 10th of the month following the end of each calendar quarter, with additional reports due closer to the station’s Phase Assignment and after completing the transition.

Washington Issues for TV Broadcasters – Where Things Stand at the FCC

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Mon 11 Sep 2017 5:13 pm

There is never a shortage of Washington issues for broadcasters to consider, and the rapid pace of change since the new administration took over in January has made it even more difficult to track where all the issues stand. While we try on this Blog to write about many of the DC issues for broadcasters, we can’t always address everything that is happening. Every few months, my partner David O’Connor and I update a list of the legal and regulatory issues facing TV broadcasters. That list of issues is published by TVNewsCheck and the latest version, published last week, is available on their website, here. It provides a summary of the status of legal and regulatory issues ranging from the adoption of the ATSC 3.0 standard at one end of the alphabet to White Spaces and Wireless Microphones on the other – with summaries of other issues including the Incentive Auction, EEO compliance, Political Advertising and Sponsorship Identification, along with dozens of other topics, many with links to our more detailed discussions here on the Blog. Of course, these issues change almost daily, so watch this blog and other trade publications for the latest Washington news of interest to broadcasters.

FCC Issues Guidance for Broadcasters and Other Regulated Services in the Path of Hurricane Irma

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Fri 8 Sep 2017 5:28 pm

The FCC has issued a series of public notices to broadcasters and other FCC regulated entities in the path of Hurricane Irma. General guidance was issued by the FCC, here, discussing how stations can get special temporary authority to operate with facilities different than those specified in their licenses by email or even by telephone during the emergency. This may be particularly important if stations towers or antennas are damaged by the storm and, to continue service, stations need to use alternate facilities. During the recent Texas Hurricane harvey, the FCC even issued some daytime only AM stations authority to temporarily operate with nighttime operations where they were providing emergency information. If STAs are needed, the public notice provides information about where to call or email

The FCC has also activated its Disaster Information Reporting System for the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and is likely to extend it to portions of Florida in the near future. This system is used by stations and other licensees to report cessation or changes to their operations. In some cases, reporting these details may provide a station with access to information about how to speed the delivery of equipment, fuel or other emergency supplies to stations in the affected areas. The reporting system is voluntary, but encouraged by the FCC.

We obviously hope for the safety and security of all in the affected areas, and thank all the broadcasters who will, in the coming days, be spending countless hours reporting important information to the residents of their service areas. As always, they provide an invaluable service at times like there, and we all pray that everyone stays safe.

 

FCC Issues Draft Proposal To Revoke Rule Requiring Physical Copy of FCC Rules at All Broadcast Stations

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Fri 8 Sep 2017 5:25 pm

We yesterday wrote about Chairman Pai’s promise to start the process of modernizing media regulation by abolishing a simple but outdated rule – one requiring that each broadcast station have a physical copy of the FCC rules on the station premises. Yesterday, the FCC released a draft of their Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to implement that change in the rules. That draft will be considered at the FCC meeting later this month (on September 26), after which a final copy of the NPRM will be released, and later published in the Federal Register setting formal comment dates. It is a very small step toward the modernization of media regulation sought by the Chairman, but a step nevertheless.

 

More on Media Deregulation – Chairman Pai Speaks to NAB Radio Show and Promises to Propose the Repeal of a Rule Each Month

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Thu 7 Sep 2017 5:52 am

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spoke on Wednesday at the opening lunch at the NAB Radio Show in Austin, promising more moves to bring media regulation in line with the realities of the modern media marketplace. In his speech, the text of which is available here, the Chairman promised several actions including the following:

  • A monthly Notice of Proposed Rulemaking suggesting a media rule change prompted by suggestions made in the Modernization of Media Regulation proceeding we wrote about here and here.
  • The first proposal for deregulation coming for the September FCC meeting is a modest one, probably chosen as symbolic of the rules that are outdated and unnecessary – the proposal being to eliminate the rule that requires that a broadcaster have a hard copy of the FCC rules at their station. While not a rule that is ever enforced, it is still notable in that the proposal is being advanced only about a month after the end of the comment period on Media Modernization and illustrates a rule that clearly is unnecessary in a day when any broadcaster can access any FCC rule at any time via the Internet.
  • The Chairman stated that he had reviewed the comments in the proceeding to abolish the rules requiring main studios for all broadcast stations, and he concluded that these rules were no longer necessary and would be presenting an Order to implement their abolition before the end of the year.

The Chairman also announced that there would be a further order dealing with AM technical rules released this week as part of is initiative to improve the AM service. He also summarized the FCC’s recent get tough policy on pirate radio (about which we wrote here), promising to use all tools at the FCC’s disposal to demonstrate that there is no place for pirate radio.

The speech demonstrated, once again, how this FCC has a far different perspective on broadcasting than prior Commissions. In fact, the Chairman started his speech with a recitation of the important role that broadcasting had played in addressing the many issues posed by the recent Texas hurricane and lauding their assistance in relief efforts. It was a well-received presentation that will, no doubt, stir many broadcasters to eagerly anticipate the upcoming proposals for more changes in the FCC’s media rules.

FCC Regulatory Fees Due By September 26

Delivered... David Oxenford and Kelly Donohue | Scene | Wed 6 Sep 2017 3:58 pm

The FCC late yesterday released an Order setting the amount of FY2017 Annual Regulatory fees, along with a public notice setting September 26 as the deadline for those fees. Reg fees may be paid now through September 26. If not paid by 11:59 PM Eastern Time on that date, penalties of 25% will be assessed. In addition, applications by any licensee that has not paid its fees may be held by the Commission without action until the fees are paid, and can even end up resulting in a license cancellation in cases where the failure is a long-term unresolved issue.

The public notice also makes clear that fees can only be paid by electronic transfer of funds. Checks and money orders will not be accepted. Only payments by credit cards or electronic transfer of funds will be allowed. Credit cards can only be used for payments up to $24,999.99 by any entity. Only commercial stations need to pay these fees. A fact sheet for the Media Services should be available shortly containing more details on the fees and procedures for payments by broadcasters. But the amounts of the fees for various classes of broadcasters were set by the FCC’s Order also released yesterday.

The Order adopted a revised version of the proposed table in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking about which we wrote here. It reduces the regulatory fees in the two lowest population tiers for AM and FM broadcasters from the amounts proposed. The fee structure for radio for this year’s fees as adopted by the Commission is as follows:

 

FY 2017 RADIO STATION REGULATORY FEES
Population

Served

AM Class A AM Class B AM Class C AM Class D FM Classes

A, B1 & C3

FM Classes

B, C, C0, C1 & C2

<=25,000 $895 $640 $555 $610 $980 $1,100
25,001 – 75,000 $1,350 $955 $830 $915 $1,475 $1,650
75,001 – 150,000 $2,375 $1,700 $1,475 $1,600 $2,600 $2,925
150,001 – 500,000 $3,550 $2,525 $2,200 $2,425 $3,875 $4,400
500,001 – 1,200,000 $5,325 $3,800 $3,300 $3,625 $5,825 $6,575
1,200,001 – 3,000,00 $7,975 $5,700 $4,950 $5,425 $8,750 $9,875
3,000,001 – 6,000,00 $11,950 $8,550 $7,400 $8,150 $13,100 $14,800
>6,000,000 $17,950 $12,825 $11,100 $12,225 $19,650 $22,225

 

It also adopted the following fees for other broadcast licensees and permitteess:

AM Radio Construction Permits 555
FM Radio Construction Permits 980
Digital TV (47 CFR part 73) VHF and UHF Commercial  
                Markets 1-10 59,750
                Markets 11-25 45,025
                Markets 26-50 30,050
                Markets 51-100 14,975
                Remaining Markets 4,925
                Construction Permits 4,925
Satellite Television Stations (All Markets) 1,725
Low Power TV, Class A TV, TV/FM Translators & Boosters (47 CFR part 74) 430
Earth Stations (47 CFR part 25) 360

 

In the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking earlier this year, the Commission had proposed coming up with a definitive list of satellite TV stations, which pay less than full-service non-satellite stations. However, the FCC was not able to come up with a definitive source for such information, leaving that issue to be examined in the future.

The Commission also raised the de minimis threshold, below which broadcasters need not pay any fees, to $1,000. A broadcaster whose total fees for all of its stations is less than $1000 need not pay any fee. Thus, certain entities that own a single AM or small-market FM may avoid the need to pay any fees. But the Order reminded regulatees that they will need to reevaluate annually to determine whether their total liability for annual regulatory fees falls at or below the threshold given any changes that the Commission may make in its regulatory fees from year to year.

The fee filing process is now underway.  To avoid penalties for late filings, and to avoid the potential of having application processing blocked and other sanctions for nonpayment of the fees, be sure to meet the September 26 deadline.

 

FCC Extends Filing Deadline for Biennial Ownership Reports Until March 2, 2018, But Will Require Reporting of Station Ownership as of October 1, 2017 Even By Those Who Sold Stations

Delivered... David Oxenford | Scene | Tue 5 Sep 2017 5:51 pm

The FCC on Friday announced that they were extending the deadline for filing Biennial Ownership Reports by broadcasters from December 1 to March 2, 2018 to be sure that the new version of the form in the FCC’s LMS database will be up and ready to be used. The FCC will open the window for filing these ownership reports on December 1 (which was to be the deadline). However, the reports will still report on the ownership of each broadcast station as of October 1, 2017, meaning that station owners who sell their station between October 1 and the new deadline are being told by the FCC that they will need to file their own biennial reports – even if they no longer own any broadcast stations.

We have written about these reports in the past, and about the particular controversy about whether noncommercial broadcasters needed to obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) for each of its owners (see our article here about the FCC decision to not require that information). This is the first time that noncommercial entities will be filing their Biennial Reports at the same time as commercial broadcasters. Noncommercial broadcasters previously filed on the anniversary date of their license renewal filing, a system put on hold last year in anticipation of this year’s filing deadline.

Next Page »
TunePlus Wordpress Theme