Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition Honors Julius Knapp

The Fixed Wireless Communications Coalition (FWCC) has adopted a resolution commending Julius Knapp of the FCC on his long and distinguished career. Mr. Knapp announced his retirement recently after over 40 years in government service, most recently as the FCC’s Chief Engineer and head of its Office of Engineering and Technology. Mr. Knapp established a strong record of letting science be the FCC’s guide in resolving sometimes contentious debates, including those about the benefits of proposed spectrum usages vs. the adverse effects on other spectrum users. He and his staff have been reliable sources of expert engineering input for generations of Commissioners who may not themselves be technically trained. He could always be counted on to carefully consider and evaluate competing claims and render a sound judgment, while also never losing sight of the importance of advancing the potential of new technologies, improving public safety, and making communications more efficient and reliable.

“Julie has been the very model of a dedicated, unbiased, and knowledgeable civil servant,” said Fletcher Heald’s Mitchell Lazarus, longtime counsel for the FWCC. “We at FWCC have appreciated his long body of work and wish him well in his future endeavors.”

Is it Time for All-Digital AM Radio?

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has invited comments on whether it should allow AM radio broadcast stations to abandon their analog signals in favor of an all-digital signal format. Preliminary tests have shown that all-digital signals provide improved audio quality and immunity from interference. While the FCC does not propose to require any AM station to convert to all-digital operation, it has asked whether it should allow digital conversion on a voluntary basis.

Continue Reading

To Be or Not to Be – That is the Channel 6 Analog LPTV Question

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has invited a new round of comments on the fate of analog Low Power Television (“LPTV”) stations that transmit on Channel 6 and target their audio channel to FM radio receivers.

Nearly all of the television broadcast industry has already converted to digital operation. There are no more analog full power or Class A television stations, but a few analog Low Power Television (“LPTV”) stations remain on the air. They face a deadline imposed by the FCC –as specified in this Public Notice from April 2017– of July 13, 2021, to convert to digital or to shut down. Continue Reading

Displacement Application Window for Pending Rural LPTV Applicants Opens Today

If you filed any applications for new Low Power Television (LPTV) stations during the 2009 application window, your applications have not yet been granted, and channels you requested have been displaced by a full power or Class A TV station as a result of the spectrum repack, you now have an opportunity to request new channels. Starting today and ending January 31, 2020, you may amend your applications to change channels. Continue Reading

In an Emergency: Which Door Should First Responders Kick In?

About 80% of the 240 million phone calls received by 911 public safety answering points (PSAPs) come from wireless callers. The goal of regulators is that technology automatically identify the location of callers even if callers don’t know where they are or are unable to speak the information because of injury or constraint by an attacker. The idea is to convey a “dispatchable location,” enabling first responders to figure out “which door to kick in” when they arrive on the scene of an emergency. The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has now adopted rules to help locate callers in terms of not only the street address but also the vertical location within a multi-story building. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for December – February


Broadcast Deadlines:

December 1, 2019

License Renewal Pre-Filing Announcements – Radio stations licensed in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi must begin broadcasts of their pre-filing announcements with regard to their applications for renewal of the license. These announcements must be continued on December 16, January 1, and January 16. Continue Reading

What to Do If Your EAS IPAWS Tests Aren’t Working

Your Emergency Alert System (EAS) equipment may have stopped passing through tests received via the equipment’s Internet connection to the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System (IPAWS) because one of the trust root certificates used to validate digital signatures associated with alerts expired a little over a week ago. If your EAS equipment is rejecting IPAWS alerts, here is what to do about it. Continue Reading

A Primer on the CBD Interim Rules: What Broadcasters and Media Companies Need to Know

Cannabidiol (“CBD”) oil, a product that can be derived from hemp or marijuana plants, is an undeniably hot commodity right now. You may have seen CBD gummies, CBD topical creams, and even CBD-infused pillows for sale at your local store. At this point you are wondering if your broadcast station can advertise these products. CommLawBlog covered CBD advertising back in late February of 2019, and in that article, we recommended that broadcasters hold off on accepting such advertising until more rules governing CBD were put into place, anticipating that broadcasters would be able advertise CBD in the near future. Well, friends, the future is (at least in part) here, although not without complications. The United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) on October 31, 2019, published interim rules on the “Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program” – which you can read in the Federal Register. The Comment date for these rules is December 30, 2019, meaning that the USDA will be in a position to adopt final rules for production of hemp and, therefore, CBD derived from hemp, by early 2020. Continue Reading

Selected New Developments in Broadband – November

Capitol Hill

As the year’s legislative calendar winds down, a large new infrastructure spending program with dedicated funding for broadband appears dead. Attention is on smaller pieces of bi-partisan legislation addressing unwanted robocalls, narrowly targeted funding for “digital dead zones,” and mapping. Targeted infrastructure funding is partly addressed by a Senate appropriations bill that devotes $690 million in fiscal year (FY) 2020 funding for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) broadband loan and grant programs (presumably including the ReConnect program).   Many rural interest groups have publicly called for continued funding for the program. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for November – January

Broadcast Deadlines:

October 30, 2019

Closed Captioning – Reply Comments due in response to the FCC’s Public Notice (CG Docket 05-231, DA-19-776A1) requesting comments on a Petition for Declaratory Ruling and/or Rulemaking on Live Closed Captioning Quality Metrics and the Use of Automatic Speech Recognition Technologies by Telecommunications for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Inc.

November 4, 2019

Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) Rules and Enforcement – Reply comments are due with regard to the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) requesting comments on how to improve EEO compliance and enforcement. Continue Reading