Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for June – August

Broadcast Deadlines:

June 1, 2020

Radio License Renewal Applications Due – Applications for renewal of license for radio stations located in Michigan and Ohio must be filed in the Licensing and Management System (“LMS”). These applications must be accompanied by Schedule 396, the Broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) Program Report, also filed in LMS, regardless of the number of full-time employees. Continue Reading

FCC Invites Comments on its Attempts to Stop Scam Calls

On May 6, 2020, we wrote about several steps taken by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to deter robocalls, implementing new authority given by Congress last year in the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (“TRACED Act”).  In addition to adopting several new rules to be effective immediately, the FCC invited comments on how it should fulfill its obligation under the TRACED Act to take steps to prevent “one-ring” scams. These scams involve placing a call but hanging up after one ring, with the intent that the call recipient will dial the caller ID to find out who called, or leaving a message asking the recipient to call a certain number to schedule a delivery or to obtain some kind of reward.  In both cases, the callback number is an international number that causes the consumer to incur charges, with revenues shared with the scammer.

The invitation to comment has now been published in the Federal Register, establishing June 19, 2020, as the deadline for filing Initial Comments and July 6 as the deadline for Reply Comments.

FCC Adopts Order to Realign the 900 MHz Band

On May 13, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) adopted on circulation a Report and Order (“Order”) during its open meeting that would transform the 900 MHz band to enable broadband deployment. We wrote an article about the proposed changes last month. That article is still relevant as the draft report was adopted essentially as written. We’ll report the effective date of the rules once they have been published in the Federal Register.

Extended Comment Deadlines for Regulation of RF Emissions in Higher Frequency Bands

On January 9, 2020, we blogged about a Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) decision resolving many of the issues that it had been considering with respect to limits on exposure of human beings to radiofrequency (“RF”) energy. The FCC also invited comments as to whether it should extend its regulation of RF emissions from the present range of 100 kHz to 100 GHz up to 3 THz (3,000 GHz).  On April 16, 2020, we posted corrected Comment and Reply Comment deadlines.  Although many parties have already filed Comments, the deadlines have been twice extended by the FCC.  Initial Comments will now be due June 17, and Reply Comments due July 20, 2020.

Comment Deadlines Established for Relaxation of DTS Restrictions

On April 2, 2020, we wrote about proposals by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to relax restrictions on Distributed Antenna Systems (“DTS”) for full-power television stations and to make DTS newly available to Class A and Lower Power Television stations.

The proposals have now been published in the Federal Register, establishing deadlines for Initial Comments on June 12 and Reply Comments on July 13, 2020.

FCC Lobs More Fireballs at Robocallers and Spoofers

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has taken several steps in recent years to deter robocalls of all kinds, with some success, but not enough to give us poor ordinary folks the telephone peace and quiet for which we yearn. Last year, Congress passed the Pallone-Thune Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence Act (“TRACED Act”), giving the FCC more authority to punish violators of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”) and requiring the FCC to take certain steps. (Needless to say, the TRACED Act followed the current custom of determining the acronym first and figuring out the full name of the statute later.) The FCC has now implemented some of its new statutory authority and has invited comments on what steps it should take next. Continue Reading

FCC Waives Some Broadcast EEO Requirements for Rehires

As part of its efforts to provide relief to broadcasters reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has announced a limited waiver of recruitment requirements for the re-hiring of employees who were laid off as a direct result of COVID-19 economic conditions. Continue Reading

FCC Announces Full Electronic Filing Capability

This week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Public Notice that announced 100 percent electronic filing capability for license applications in the Wireless Radio Services.  Accordingly, the filing of all wireless license applications via the Wireless Telecommunication Bureau’s online Universal Licensing System (ULS), or the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filings System (ECFS), will become mandatory on July 29, 2020. After 4 PM July 28, 2020, applications that are manually filed will no longer be accepted. This deadline will be strictly enforced.

The categories that were previously exempt from electronic filing were as follows: Special Temporary Authority (STA) applications in certain market-based services, sublease applications, and multi-step transactions. For the aforementioned categories, those applications can now be filed electronically, and the FCC has made available an ECFS non-docketed filing solution (instructions for filing here).  As mentioned above, electronic filing via ECFS of the previously exempt categories will become mandatory on July 29, 2020.

Licensees can email courtesy copies of their applications with urgent filing deadlines to ULScc@fcc.gov. Please reach out to your counsel if you need assistance or are unfamiliar with these filing requirements.

FCC to Allow Creation of a New 900 MHz Broadband Band

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) has released a draft Order which is likely to be adopted at the Commission‘s May 13 meeting. The order would bring to an end a long process spearheaded by Anterix (formerly PDV) to gather up and reshuffle the now untidily interleaved narrowband and Specialized Mobile Radio (SMR) channel groups in the 896-901/935-940 MHz bands into neatly separated broadband and narrowband licenses.  A 3 x 3 MHz broadband license would reside in the middle of the 10 MHz band, with numerous 12.5 kHz narrowband allocations on either side. Continue Reading