Last Nail in the PTFP Coffin?

(NTIA Proposes Formal End to Public Telecom Facilities Program)

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that proposes to repeal all of its regulations establishing and governing the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program (PTFP).  The PTFP was a competitive grant program that helped public broadcasting entities, state and local governments, Native American Tribes, and nonprofit organizations to construct public television and radio stations.  However, as of Fiscal Year 2011, Congress stopped appropriating funds for PTFP.  As a result of the lack of funding, NTIA began to shut down the PTFP.  NTIA has not processed applications or awarded any grants under the PTFP since funding ceased, although it continued to monitor PTFP grants it awarded before Fiscal Year 2011. Continue Reading

Leggo Our Spectrum – The Auto Industry’s Win for Vehicular Radar

FCC Order Represents One More Step Towards Fully-Autonomous Vehicles

I’ve written on connected and autonomous vehicles in the past, including about an ongoing spectrum fight at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding use of spectrum set aside years ago for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications (specifically, for a technology called DSRC).

The FCC now has revised its rules to allow for new short-range vehicular radars that increasingly will be relied upon for automotive safety. While collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control systems are becoming common, newer systems using short-range radars can provide additional driver assistance such as lane departure warnings, blind spot warnings, and detection of nearby vehicles and “objects,” including pedestrians and bicycles. (As a frequent bike commuter, this writer has an eye on any new technologies that would improve bicycle safety.) Continue Reading

FCC Tweaks Mic Rules, Microsoft Launches Spectrum Fight

In late 2015, major wireless microphone manufacturers requested that the FCC “reconsider” various mostly-technical rules that it had adopted as part of a wide-ranging strategy to reallocate spectrum for wireless microphones. (We’ve written about recent regulatory changes for wireless mics here, here and here.)

The Commission now has responded via an Order aimed at fine-tuning the technical rules for wireless microphones. Continue Reading

The FCC Re-Tweaks the Equipment Authorization Rules

Some FCC regulations are carved in stone, changing about as often as the rules of chess. But not the equipment authorization rules, which lay out the procedures manufacturers and importers must follow to market devices having potential to cause interference to radio communications. The FCC likes to revise and update these every few years. This post reports on a recent set of rule changes adopted on July 13, 2017 (released on July 14, 2017), some of which could become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register –possibly as soon as August.

 

Products subject to the equipment rules include transmitters, of course, and also some receivers, most digital devices, and a few other odds and ends. All of these add up to some large fraction of whatever plugs into the wall or takes a battery. Manufactures and importers should familiarize themselves with these changes. Continue Reading

Winter is Coming . . . Freeze on certain FM Translator/FM Booster and LPFM Applications starts July 19th

In case you missed this detail in Matt McCormick’s recent article about the upcoming FM translator application filing window for AM Class C and D station owners, Wednesday (July 19) is the start of a temporary freeze on acceptance of applications for minor modifications of existing FM translators and LPFMs, and for FM booster construction permits.

To be precise, the freeze starts at 12:01 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) on July 19, and won’t thaw out until August 2, after the window closes for the AM owners’ applications for new FM translators.

That cross-service FM translator window doesn’t open until July 26, but the FCC’s usual practice is to freeze mod. applications earlier (7 days, in this case — for the math challenged) so there’s a stable database of FM translator/booster/LPFM frequencies and locations for the engineers to work within while preparing applications to file during the window.

So, heads up, you have just a matter of days to file that minor modification application you’ve been thinking about, unless you want to chill-out and wait until August for the freeze to melt.

FCC Releases Instructions for Registering for the 2017 EAS Test Reporting System

(New procedures require all filers to register in the FCC’s updated CORES system)

On June 26, 2017, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau (PSHSB) of the Federal Communications Commission released instructions as to how Emergency Alert System (EAS) Participants must register for access to the 2017 EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).  The PSHSB also stated in its Public Notice that it will release a further notice in July announcing the opening of the 2017 ETRS, and the date by which EAS Participants must file their EAS reporting data. Continue Reading

Sinclair-Tribune Merger Open for Comments

As has been widely reported, Sinclair Broadcast Group reached a $3.9 Billion cash and stock agreement in May with Tribune Media Company.  The agreement calls for Sinclair to acquire Tribune Media and its 42 broadcast television stations, among other media assets.  Just before the July 4 holiday, the companies filed a series of transfer of control applications with the FCC seeking approval for the transaction.  As has become customary with other large broadcast transactions, the Media Bureau has now released a Public Notice establishing a docket for the proceeding, announcing the dates by which oppositions and comments on the applications must be filed, and according “permit-but-disclose” ex parte status to the proceeding. Continue Reading

See you later, local correspondence file!

As Egon said in Ghosbusters, “print is dead.”

Okay, that may be a bit of an overstatement.  But at least as to many broadcast stations’ local public inspection files, it is essentially true as of today.  Back in January, the FCC voted to do away with the requirement that commercial broadcast stations retain in their public inspection files copies of letters and e-mails from the public concerning their stations’ operations.  Because it dealt with a paperwork collection, however, the change could not go into effect until it received the approval of Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  The FCC announced today that the OMB has signed off the proposal and, as a result, the rule changes adopted in January (which also included elimination of the requirement that cable operators include headend locations in their public files) are in effect as of June 29, 2017.

Since the advent of the online public inspection file, this type of local correspondence had been the only thing broadcasters were still required to maintain in their physical public inspection file (due to privacy concerns, these documents were never included in the online public file).  With this elimination of the correspondence requirement, at least for broadcasters who have transitioned to the online public file system, there is no longer any need to maintain a hard copy public file at their main studios (which may themselves not be required for much longer).  In addition, the FCC clarified today that, pending additional OMB approval, commercial television licensees will no longer need to file a summary of comments received regarding violent programming as part of their license renewal applications.

Slants Supreme Court Case Slays Ban on Registration of Disparaging Trademarks

I am officially a big fan of The Slants.  I’ve never seen them in concert.  I don’t own any of their albums (I’ve never even downloaded any of their individual songs).  I’m actually still not entirely sure what “Chinatown Dance Rock” really is.

But I will forever be indebted to Simon Shiao Tam and crew.  In the context of trying to “reclaim” the term “slant” by incorporating it into their band name, The Slants have restored – or at least solidified – significant aspects of the First Amendment. They took their fight against the “disparagement clause” of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1052(a)), which prohibits the registration of trademarks that may “disparage…or…bring into contemp[t] or disrepute” any “persons, living or dead,” to the Supreme Court; the resulting decision strikes that law as facially unconstitutional. Continue Reading

Countdown Clock Ticking on Digital Millennium Copyright Act Designated Agent Registrations

(Registered agent contact information must be ELECTRONICALLY filed with the Copyright Office by December 31, 2017)

How much is peace of mind worth to you?

Does $6.00 and less than an hour of your time sound about right? What if I told you that this alone would significantly reduce the likelihood that you will be sued for copyright infringement during the following three years?

I bet that last part got your attention, didn’t it?  Act fast – this great offer is only available for a limited time! Actually, that’s not entirely true: you can (and should) act after December 31.  But you expose yourself to monetary liability for copyright infringement after Baby New Year 2018 makes his or her appearance. Continue Reading

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