240,000 Reasons to File Proper FCC Applications When You Buy a Business That Holds Wireless Licenses

The FCC recently released a Consent Decree in which the Archer Daniel Midlands Company (“ADM”) agreed to pay a $240,000 penalty for violating the FCC’s rules by engaging in transactions where five FCC wireless licenses were transferred without filing for and obtaining the prior consent of the FCC, and by failing to reveal in numerous other applications that it had been convicted of a felony. It is important for wireless licensees to comply with these requirements if they wish to avoid a similar or worse result.  Continue Reading

TV Stations and MVPDs Must Upload Contact Information by July 31st

As we head into Summer, it’s important for TV broadcasters to remember the upcoming deadlines this Fall associated with notifying multichannel video program distributors (“MVPDs”) – primarily cable TV and direct broadcast satellite operators – of the station’s election of either must-carry or retransmission consent carriage status on the MVPD systems.   Two critical deadlines are coming up: by July 31st, TV broadcasters and MVPDs must make sure that contact information on file with the FCC is up-to-date; and by October 1st, all TV stations must upload their must-carry/retransmission consent elections. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for July – September

Broadcast Deadlines:

 July 10, 2020

Children’s Television Programming Reports – For the first time, and after two delays, all commercial television and Class A television stations must file electronically annual children’s television programming reports with the Commission, although the first one will cover only the portion of the year which began with the effective date of the revised rules (September 16-December 31, 2019). These reports should be automatically included in the OPIF, but we would recommend checking, as the FCC bases its initial judgments of filing compliance on the contents and dates shown in the online public file. Continue Reading

FCC Extends Sponsorship ID Waiver for Sponsored COVID-19 PSAs

The Media Bureau today extended the waiver it enacted in April to alleviate broadcast sponsorship identification requirements concerning air time donated by commercial advertisers for public service announcements (“PSAs”) provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) and other government agencies addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. Pursuant to this extension, commercial time donated for COVID-19 PSAs will not be required to be accompanied by a sponsorship ID through August 31, 2020.

Welcoming Kristen Corra to Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C.

Washington-area based telecommunications, media, and technology law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. is pleased to announce the arrival of Kristen Corra, who has joined the firm as an Associate. Having represented a major wireless carrier and assisted with securing commercial leasing, licensing, and potential acquisition of telecommunications infrastructure, Kristen brings her prowess to the firm’s formidable team of telecom-focused attorneys. Continue Reading

FCC Pressed to Expand Local Origination on FM Translators and Boosters

A group of 24 radio broadcast licensees has petitioned the FCC to expand the concept of localized program content beyond FM boosters and to allow localized origination by FM translators as well.

On April 24, 2012, and April 13, 2020, we blogged about a proposal by GeoBroadcast Solutions, LLC, (“GeoBroadcast”) to allow FM radio stations to operate on-channel boosters that do not entirely duplicate the content of the main station.  Each booster could broadcast local content intended for just the specific portion of the main station’s service area where the booster is located.  The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) invited comments on the proposal, which were due May 4, 2020. Continue Reading

No National Test this Year for FEMA’s Integrated Public Alert & Warning System

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) has announced that it will not conduct a national test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”) via the broadcast Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) and Wireless Emergency Alert (“WEA”) system this year. As we have written about in the past, EAS tests are sometimes postponed due to natural disasters and other extenuating circumstances, but this will be the first time in nearly a decade that they are canceled.

In a statement released late last week, FEMA indicated cancellation of the 2020 nationwide test is intended to help lower the workload for broadcast staff – already overburdened adjusting to COVID-19 – in particular by removing the need to file EAS reports. FEMA is only required to test the IPAWS system every three years, and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) found that last year’s test was largely effective, having reached 82.5% of participants. Broadcast weekly and monthly tests are not effected and must continue to be conducted.

The FCC Releases Reconsideration of Procedures for Conversion from ATSC 1.0 to 3.0

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has issued a Second Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration, largely leaving intact the rules it adopted in 2017 authorizing television broadcast stations to implement the ATSC 3.0 technical standard, now known as “NextGen” TV. Continue Reading

Selected New Developments in Broadband – through June 16

Selected New Developments in Broadband – through June 16

Capitol Hill

The Trump Administration has again voiced support for a $2 trillion stimulus and infrastructure package (that would presumably have a broadband component), but Senate Republicans are not there yet. In May, the House passed the Democrats’ multi-trillion dollar Heroes Act on a party-line vote. This is the next installment of COVID-19 response legislation and contains several multi-billion dollar broadband spending programs. Some of the broadband pieces of the Heroes Act have been introduced as standalone bills which, along with other bills of interest, are summarized below: Continue Reading

Update: June 15 Comment Deadline for C-Band Satellite Rebanding Expenses

On June 9, we posted a discussion of the FCC’s invitation to comment on cost reimbursements for C-Band satellite rebanding expenses.  We noted a short comment deadline, with Comments due Tuesday, June 16.

Today, the FCC published a correction in the Federal Register, moving the Comment deadline back to Monday, June 15.  We are not sure that a “correction” on four days’ notice is legally enforceable, particularly when the FCC’s Public Notice of June 4 specified a 7-day comment period but no fixed deadline date; but commenters should file by June 15 if they are able to do so.