Comment Deadlines Announced for Proposed LPFM Rule Changes

On August 8, we discussed changes proposed in the technical rules for Low Power FM (LPFM) stations, in an article titled “REC ‘N’ Roll in the FM Band:  LPFM Changes Proposed, NCE-FM Changes Requested.

The LPFM Proposals have now been published in the Federal Register, and comment deadlines have been announced.  Initial Comments are due October 3, 2019, with Reply Comments due November 4, 2019.

If you have any questions regarding the preparation and filing of Comments and Replies, please contact your counsel.

FCC Announces Extension of the Biennial Broadcast Ownership Report Filing Deadline

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has announced in an order published on September 17. 2019 that it will delay the filing deadline to January 31, 2020, for broadcast ownership reports (two months later than the original deadline). This applies to licensees of commercial and noncommercial AM, FM, TV, Class A, and Low Power Television (LPTV) stations, as well as entities with attributable interests in such stations. The purpose of shifting the filing window is to allow the FCC time to make the appropriate improvements to the Form 323/323-E report as it relates to the electronic filing system.  The Order also delays the opening of the window to file biennial ownership reports from October 1, 2019 to November 1, 2019.

Filers take note, the new FCC Order does not shift the required “as-of” date of the information reported on Form 323/323-E biennial ownership reports. The information reported on this form must still reflect ownership interests existing on October 1, 2019.

This order will provide filers with additional time to prepare their forms, as has been the case for past years’ filing of biennial ownership reports. If any questions arise, remember to contact your counsel.

New Developments in Broadband – September

Capitol Hill

House Democrats’ “Leading Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s America Act” (LIFT America Act) –containing $40 billion dedicated for broadband, largely through reverse auctions – remains pending.  While prospects for significant federal spending on a new broadband program remain in limbo, Congress has allocated further funding to the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) ReConnect funding for 2020 (item below).  Bi-partisan interest in broadband generally remains strong.  On Thursday, September 5, Senator John Thune (R-SD) (chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet) held a field hearing on rural broadband at the Southeast Technical Institute, in Sioux Falls, SD.  The witness list and testimonies are available here. Continue Reading

Now Available: Political Broadcasting 2019: A Refresher Course Webinar

With Federal, state, and local elections on the horizon (to say nothing of FCC license renewals), it’s a good time to brush up on the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. This webinar, presented in collaboration with the Colorado Broadcasters Association, and led by Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth attorneys Dan Kirkpatrick and Frank Montero, and featuring special guest star Bobby Baker, the FCC Media Bureau’s Political Broadcasting Guru, touches on a variety of important subjects including, lowest unit rate, equal time, issue ads, and online public file record-keeping (more detail on the online public file here).

If you couldn’t watch the webinar live or just can’t get enough of it, you can download and print the presentation’s PowerPoint slides here and can also watch the full webinar on the Fletcher Heald YouTube page. And if you have any questions about political broadcasting, reach out to us at fhhwebinar@fhhlaw.com.

RMLC-GMR Interim License Version 6.0:  The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

Commercial radio stations represented by the Radio Music License Committee (“RMLC”) should take note of yet another extension – through March 31, 2020 – of the interim license allowing those stations to play music in the repertory of Global Music Rights (“GMR”) while the RMLC and GMR continue to duke out their music licensing differences in federal court.  (If you are a noncommercial radio station or if you are represented in GMR negotiations by the National Religious Broadcasters Music License Committee, this post does not apply to you, and you should consult your counsel before signing any license extension sent to you by GMR.) Continue Reading

FCC Releases Annual Regulatory Fee Order – Payments Due Sept. 24, 2019

As we begin the march into cooler weather, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) has released the final schedule of regulatory fees for 2019 and their due date.  Despite some initial confusion around the release of the deadline, the confirmed date is September 24, 2019 and the Fee Filer website is now active and ready to accept payments.

Fees must be paid by September 24, 2019. Continue Reading

Revised Children’s TV Rules Effective in Part Soon – Current Paperwork Requirements Still in Place, Further Comments Requested

As we previously reported, many of the revised children’s TV rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) in July are to go into effect 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and we now know what that effective date will be:  September 16, 2019.  That effective date will apply to the changes in permissible times of day for core programs, the changes in the total number of hours of core educational and informational (“E/I”) programming that must be aired when a station has multiple digital streams to fall within the safe harbor for license renewal, and the increased flexibility in allowing some shorter or not regularly scheduled programming to be considered as part of a station’s performance. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for September – November

Broadcast Deadlines:

September 16, 2019

Children’s TV Programming – Support for E/I Programs on Other Stations –  Comments are due in response to the FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which seeks to further revise the children’s television programming rules and policies to establish standards that would give broadcasters greater flexibility to meet their obligation to serve the educational and informational needs of children, at least in part, by supporting educational and informational programming aired on other stations in the market.  This option has historically been available but, without standards, has not been useful to broadcasters. Continue Reading

Finding Out Where You Are When You Call 911

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has adopted new rules requiring manufacturers, importers, vendors, installers and managers of multi-line telephone systems (“MLTS”) to configure those systems to provide automated location information (called “dispatchable location”) and a location-specific callback number when a caller makes an emergency call to 911, at least to the extent feasible using technology when and as available.  The idea is to provide first responders with information about where to find a 911 caller who may be unable to speak for any number of reasons, such as being injured or held hostage, and may even not know where he or she is. Continue Reading

Robocall Roundup: New Robocall Act Goes to the Senate

Amidst the polarization in Washington, there remains one thing nearly everyone agrees on; no one likes robocalls. Last month, the House passed the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, which directs the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) to take several steps to curb robocallers and adopts stiffer penalties for robocallers (particularly robocallers who intentionally violate the law). The bill awaits further action in the Senate, which passed its own robocall legislation, the Traced Act, earlier in the year. The House bill passed on a 429-3 vote, and the Senate bill passed 97-1. Continue Reading

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