FCC Announces the Next Step in Licensing Next Generation TV

When the FCC released its Next Gen TV Report and Order in November 2017, we wrote about how this authorized television broadcasters to use the “Next Generation” broadcast television transmission standard (also known as ATSC 3.0) on a voluntary, market-driven basis. The rules from that Order became effective on February 2, 2018, except for the rule sections 73.3801, 73.6029, and 74.782 which required approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) because they contain information collection requirements. These rules covered core issues such as coverage and simulcasting requirements, and the FCC application process. However, yesterday the FCC announced that OMB has signed off on the rules, effective as of July 17.

For broadcasters eager to jump into Next Generation TV (not the Star Trek franchise), the FCC also announced that the Media Bureau is in the process of making changes to its Licensing and Management System (LMS) to accommodate ATSC 3.0 license applications, and that completion of such changes is expected to begin in early 2019. The Bureau is not yet accepting applications for ATSC 3.0 licenses, but it will issue a public notice announcing when it will start accepting applications for such licenses. In the meantime, the Media Bureau will continue to consider applications filed using the experimental licensing rules for ATSC 3.0 market trials and product development.

If you have questions about the Next Generation TV rules, please call us at 703-812-0400.

FCC 2018 Application Fee Schedule Announced

On July 10, the FCC released an Order on adjustments to the application fees that the Commission collects from applicants. The Commission is required to adjust these fees every two years to keep pace with the changes in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).  This year’s application fees will go up by 3.7 percent in response to increases in the CPI from October 2015 to October 2017. The Order also reiterates the Commission’s goal of moving to electronic payments as opposed to payments by mail, and notes that it will continue to require electronic payment for additional categories of applications.

The new fees won’t kick in until 30 days after the FCC’s order shows up in the Federal Register. In other words, you’ve got some time to prepare and file applications and still take advantage of the current fee schedule. Check back here for updates about the effective date of the new fees.

Comment Deadline Announced for FM Class C4 Inquiry

Photo courtesy of the Creative Commons Licence

We wrote on June 10 that the FCC has launched a Notice of Inquiry looking toward the creation of a new “C4” class of FM broadcast station in areas outside the Northeast and Southern California, with an effective radiated power (ERP) limit of 12 kW.  These stations would have more power than Class A stations, which are limited to 6 kW, but less than Class C3 stations, which may operate with up to 25 kW.

The FCC has now announced that comments will be due Aug. 13 and reply comments will be due Sept. 10.

ETRS Form One Due Aug. 27 for All EAS Participants

The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced today that all EAS participants (which includes most broadcasters and cable and DBS operators) must complete their 2018 ETRS Form One on or before Aug. 27.

The substance of Form One in ETRS is essentially the same as last year and requests identifying information on a participant’s location, its EAS equipment and monitoring assignments, and contact information for EAS purposes. Form One requires each EAS participant to file a separate Form One for each EAS decoder, EAS encoder, or unit combining such decoder and encoder functions.  Forms can be submitted on a station-by-station basis or on a “batch filing” basis for certain commonly-owned stations. Again, all Form Ones must be filed by no later than Aug. 27.

The ETRS system, as it did last year, requires use of an FCC Username obtained from the Commission’s CORES systems. For a review of how to get such a username if you don’t have one, check in on our post from last year here.

If you have any questions about the CORES or ETRS systems, or the national EAS test, please contact us at 703-812-0400.

REPUBLICATION: FCC Announces Extension of Filing Window to Oct. 17, 2018 for C Band Receive Only Earth Stations

CommLawBlog Update: On Saturday, July 7 a CommLawBlog post was republished due to a website error. The republished blog post entitled, “July 18 Filing Deadline Approaching for FSS Receive Only Earth Stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHz C Band” said that a filing deadline was approaching for all FSS Receive Only Earth Stations in the 3.7-4.2 GHZ C Band. The post provided outdated information that the deadline was set for July 18, but the FCC in mid-June announced that the filing window was extended until Oct. 17, 2018. In order to ensure all CommLawBlog readers and e-mail subscribers are aware of the filing deadline’s extension, we are republishing our post on this matter from June 22, 2018 which you can read below. We apologize for any confusion our readers and subscribers may have undergone due to this website error.

However, as always, if you have questions do not hesitate to contact us at 703-812-0400.

The Commission has announced a 90-day extension of the filing window for C Band receive only earth stations to Oct. 17, 2018We previously reported that the Commission had opened a filing window until July 18 to file applications for fixed-satellite (FSS) earth stations in the C Band by entities that own or operate existing FSS earth stations if the earth station is not currently registered or licensed.

The FCC had imposed a temporary filing freeze on the filing of new or modification applications for fixed-satellite (FSS) earth station licenses, receive only earth station registrations, and fixed microwave licenses in the 3.7-4.2 GHz frequency band, known as the C Band. The freeze was imposed to preserve the current landscape of authorized operations in the C Band, while the Commission considered whether to permit terrestrial broadband use and more extensive fixed use of the C Band.

Since the beginning of the freeze, many parties have submitted to the FCC their concerns about the volume of unregistered earth stations and the difficulties many operators have experienced in preparing the information required for the filing. Accordingly, the Commission extended the filing window. However, there is still a cut-off date; only earth stations constructed and operational as of April 19, 2018 are eligible for filing during this window.

The Commission has also tried to address some of the concerns raised about the financial burden relating to registration of operators with multiple dishes. The Commission offers two options to try to address this issue.

The first option is for operators with multiple receive only dishes at a single geographic location to apply to register the antennas under a single earth station application. This will only require a single FCC application fee of $435.

The second option is that the Commission will also waive certain sections of the Commission’s rules to allow operators of multiple geographically diverse receive-only earth stations to register those stations under Section 25.115(c)(2), which permits applications for “Networks of earth station operating in the 3700-4200 MHz and 5925-6425 MHz bands.” The Commission is waiving those sections of the rule which does not relate to receive-only stations. So the Commission will accept for filing applications under Section 25.115(c)(2) for networks of receive only earth stations and waive those requirements that are inapplicable to receive only stations. However, the FCC application fee for such applications are currently $10,620so an operator would need to have 25 or more dishes to register before the filing fee for the network to benefit from this particular type of filing application, as opposed to the application fee for a single dish.

If you have any questions regarding the filing window or C Band receive only earth stations, please contact your FHH attorney.

Upcoming FCC Telecom and Broadcast Deadlines July–August 2018

Photo by Mpho Mojapelo courtesy of the Creative Commons License.

Do you know what FCC telecom and broadcast deadlines are approaching? We do. Time to mark up your calendars so you’re not late on these important deadlines. Call FHH at (703)812-0400 if you have trouble meeting these deadlines or need assistance.

Telecom Deadlines:

July – No scheduled reporting/ certification deadlines for this month.

August 1, 2018 – Quarterly Telecommunications Reporting Worksheet – All interstate telecommunications service providers, including resellers and Interconnected VoIP providers of interstate services must report, on the FCC Form 499-Q, historical revenue for the second quarter (April to June 2018) and projected revenue for fourth quarter (October to December 2018) for the purpose of determining applicable Federal Universal Service Fund contributions.

Rural Call Completion Reporting  Covered providers of long-distance voice services must report first-quarter call completion details on the FCC Form 480. Covered providers include, generally, all wireline and wireless carriers, and all interconnected and non-interconnected VoIP providers, making the initial long-distance call path choice for more than 100,000 retail subscriber lines.

Numbering Resource Utilization/ Forecast Reporting  All telecommunications carriers receiving telephone numbers from the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA), a pooling administrator, or another telecommunications carrier must report their current telephone number holdings.

August 3, 2018 – Quarterly 911 Live Call Data Reports – Nationwide CMRS providers must report aggregate live call data collected for the preceding quarter.

Biannual 911 Live Call Data Reports – Non-Nationwide CMRS providers must report aggregated live call data for the preceding quarter.

Indoor 911 Call Location Accuracy Second Progress Report – All CMRS providers must submit their first progress reports on the implementation of indoor 911 call location accuracy requirements.

NEAD Privacy and Security Plan  Nationwide CMRS providers must develop and submit a detailed NEAD Privacy and Security Plan with their Second Progress Reports.

August 14, 2018 – Quarterly PIU Reporting and Certification – Prepaid calling card providers (PCCPs) must report the percentage of interstate use (PIU) factors and associated call volumes to carriers that provide them with transport services.  Additionally, PCCPs must file traffic information and a certification signed by a company officer stating that the provider is in compliance with the FCC’s PIU and USF reporting requirements.

Broadcast Deadlines:

July 10, 2018 – Repack Transition Progress Report – All full-power and Class A television stations repacked as a result of the incentive auction must file a report in LMS to detail their progress toward completion of the transition. Continue Reading

Major Kid Vid Revisions Coming Soon… as the FCC Releases a Draft NPRM

When FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly published a blog post back in January that called for the reexamination of the Children’s Programming Requirements, we questioned whether the requirements would still exist in the near future.

We can now report that we are not likely to see the complete demise of the FCC’s Children Programming Requirements (colloquially known as “Kid Vid”). Instead, the FCC released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on June 21 intended to significantly relax the Kid Vid rules. Included in the NPRM are proposals to 1) revise the “Core Programming” definition, 2) ease the agency’s renewal processing guidelines to create a Kid Vid framework that encourages special sponsorship efforts and special non-broadcast efforts, 3) reexamine the FCC’s rules that require Core Programming on multicast channels, and 4) reconsider the agency’s preemption policies. These proposals are guided by the directives of the Children’s Television Act of 1990 (CTA), which requires the FCC to consider, in its review of television license renewals, the extent to which the licensee “has served the educational and informational needs of children through its overall programming, including programming specifically designed to serve such needs.”

As stated by the FCC, this NPRM results from the changing dynamics in the way young viewers consume video programming and the comments received from the public in the FCC’s Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative proceeding. The Commission’s goal is to modify the outdated requirements so that broadcasters will have greater flexibility to better serve the educational and informational needs of children through its overall programming.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty of each proposal:

I. Changes to the Core Programming Definition and Requirements: The FCC seeks comment on revisions to its definition of “Core Programming,” which is currently defined as programming that meets the following criteria:

  • Serves the educational and informational needs of children ages 16 and under as a significant purpose;
  • At least 30 minutes in length;
  • Aired between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.;
  • A regularly scheduled weekly program;
  • Identified as specifically designed to educate and inform children by the display on the television screen throughout the programming of the “E/I” symbol;
  • Instructions for listing the program as educational/informational, including an indication of the intended age group, are provided to publishers of programming guides; and
  • The educational and informational objective along with the target child audience are reported in the licensee’s Children’s Programming Report.

Of those criteria, the FCC has tentatively concluded to eliminate the requirements for programming to be at least 30 minutes in length, regularly scheduled, and the requirement by noncommercial stations to identify programming with an E/I symbol on the screen. The FCC is seeking comment on whether commercial stations should also be exempt from identifying programming with an E/I symbol, whether the time period during which Core Programming must air should be expanded outside of 7:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; and whether the broadcasters should provide their Core Programming schedules to publishers of program guides. Continue Reading

LPTV/TV Translator Minor Change Freeze Lifted

Photo courtesy of the Creative Commons Licence

The FCC has lifted the freeze on filing applications for minor changes in existing Low Power TV (LPTV) and TV translator stations, effective today, July 3.

The freeze was lifted without advance warning, and applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. This process is different from the recent window for filing displacement applications seeking new channels, where all applications filed while the window was open are being processed if they were filed on the same day. This time, if conflicting applications are filed on different days, the earliest application filed will prevail, and later filings will be dismissed. All applications filed on the same calendar date will be treated as equally, regardless of the time of day they are filed. All applications must be filed electronically, and the calendar day does not close until 11:59 p.m. EST.

It looks like LPTV/TV translator operators who want to maximize their chances of a grant will be busy over the Independence Day holiday, scrambling during the fireworks to be first in line.

The lifting of the freeze applies to only secondary services – LPTV and TV translator stations. Minor change applications for full power and Class A TV stations remain frozen.

Applications may be filed for only minor changes to authorized facilities and pending applications, which means that the protected service contour of the requested facilities must overlap the previously authorized or proposed protected contour, and a transmitter site may not be moved more than 30 miles. The freeze remains in place for both major changes and minor change displacement applications, which means that no application may request a channel change or large site move. Applications may request minor changes in both existing licensed stations and unbuilt stations authorized by granted construction permits.

Applications will not be accepted for new digital channels to serve as companions to stations that still have analog licenses or construction permits; nor may any applications be filed for new stations.

The FCC’s Public Notice, released today, states that the purpose of the freeze was to maintain a stable database of LPTV and TV translator facilities while full power and Class A stations were applying for facilities pursuant to the repacking of the TV spectrum from Channels 2-51 to Channels 2-36. Since the application window for full power and Class A stations to request changes has closed, the FCC no longer sees a need to restrict secondary services from making changes that are a normal part of the broadcasting business. As has always been the case, applications for minor changes will have to protect both authorized facilities and pending applications by full power and Class A stations.

If you have any questions about the new filing opportunity or would like assistance on making a file, our attorneys are ready to help at 703-812-0400.


Aug. 1 Comment Deadline Set for Eliminating Posting of Broadcasting License Proceeding

Photo used courtesy of the Creative Commons Licence

If you were waiting to let the FCC know your thoughts on eliminating the requirement that broadcasters post their licenses, wait no more! The FCC has announced the comment deadline is Aug. 1 with reply comments due Aug. 16. As Matt McCormick wrote last month, the FCC’s push to eliminate the pesky license posting rules is part of the Commission’s Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative, which aims to “remove unnecessary requirements that can impede competition and innovation in the media marketplace.”

The FCC seeks comment on the following items:

  • Whether the rules continue to serve the public interest (given that this information is easily accessible online);
  • Whether these rules serve any public safety purposes; and
  • Whether there is any continuing need for LPTV, FM and TV translator, and booster stations to post signs on their towers reporting the name and address of the contact person and the place where station records are stored.
  • If you need assistance in submitting comments or reply comments, please contact us at 703-812-0400.

    Comment Deadline Set on ‘Leased’ Access Channels

    As we wrote on June 15, the FCC’s rules for leasing channels on cable television systems have never brought about an active leasing marketplace. The FCC is now taking another look at the situation, issuing a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in an old 2007 docket and inviting comments on whether to make adjustments in the existing rules or getting rid of the existing rules and rewriting the rules from scratch.

    The FNPRM was published in today’s Federal Register, establishing a July 30 deadline for submitting comments with reply comments due Aug. 13.

    Our attorneys are available at 703-812-0400 to answer questions and to assist you would like to file comments.