The FCC’s Political File Rules: Is Your Station in Full Compliance?

Super Tuesday is less than two weeks away, Michael Bloomberg is spending a king’s ransom on political advertisements, and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is actively engaged in investigating stations’ compliance with the political file rules. Now is the time to make sure your station staff understands the FCC’s political file requirements and implements any required changes in your procedures. Continue Reading

If Your Program Sounds Like It’s Live, but Isn’t, You Must Tell the Audience (Or Suffer the Consequence)

In late January, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Consent Decree penalizing Salem Media Group to the tune of $50,000 for “violat[ing] the FCC’s live broadcast rules by broadcasting prerecorded programming as ‘live’ without announcing before the broadcast that the programming was prerecorded.” In addition Salem has agreed to a three-year compliance plan to ensure the violation does not occur in the future. Continue Reading

Available Now: Getting into the Weeds of CBD & Marijuana Advertising

On Wednesday, January 29th, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Frank Montero, Dan Kirkpatrick, and Seth Williams presented a webinar that got “into the weeds” of CBD and marijuana advertising. New questions have been raised since the US Department of Agriculture in 2019 published their interim rules on the “Establishment of Domestic Hemp Projects”. To address broadcasters concerns, this webinar –  which we are proud to say was offered to the members of over 30 state broadcast associations – covered:

–          Differences between marijuana and hemp

–          Advertising of marijuana

–          Advertising ancillary businesses

–          Advertising of CBD and hemp-derived products

If you didn’t catch the webinar live or just want to go over the presentation in more detail, you can download and print the presentation’s PowerPoint slides here. You may also watch the full video recording of the webinar on YouTube. Of course, if you have any more questions about these issues, please reach out to us at

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for January – March

Broadcast Deadlines:

January 31, 2020

Biennial Ownership ReportsAll licensees and entities holding an attributable interest in a licensee of one or more AM, FM, TV, Class A television, and/or Low Power TV (LPTV) stations must file a biennial ownership report reflecting information as of October 1, 2019. Please recall that not only corporations and limited liability companies, but also sole proprietorships and partnerships composed entirely of natural persons (as opposed to a legal person, such as a corporation), are included in the licensees that must file reports. Please recall that noncommercial and commercial entities are required to file by the same date. Additionally, all persons holding an attributable interest in a commercial licensee must have acquired either an FCC Registration Number (FRN) or Restricted Use FRN. Continue Reading

Selected New Developments in Broadband – January

Capitol Hill

House Democrats are reportedly putting the finishing touches on a broadband-only infrastructure spending bill that could allocate as much as $80 billion to broadband deployment and digital equity. A formal announcement is expected in February. Continue Reading

Dates Announced for Rules Mandating Vertical Location Information in 911 Calls

On November 26, 2019, we wrote about rules adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) to help locate callers in terms of not only the street address but also a caller’s vertical location within a multi-story building, asking “Which Door Should First Responders Kick In?”

The new rules were published in the Federal Register on January 16. Except for performance and compliance reporting requirements that are subject to approval by the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”), the new rules will become effective on March 16, 2020. Deadlines have also been set for comments and replies on when and to what extent the 3-meter vertical accuracy requirement can be tightened and how location determination will work during electric power failures if it becomes dependent on externally powered mini-cell sites and Wi-Fi access points. Initial comments will be due February 18, 2020, with replies due March 16, 2020.

Comment Deadline Announced for “988” Suicide Hotline Proposal

On January 7, 2020, we wrote about a proposal by the FCC to establish “988” as a nationwide abbreviated telephone dialing code to reach the National Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis hotline.  The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has now been published in the Federal Register, establishing the deadlines for comments and replies.  Initial Comments will be due on February 14 and Reply Comments will be due on March 16, 2020.  Some may find it rather appropriate that comments on a proposal to save lives will be due on Valentine’s Day.

Monitor Your Tower Lighting or be Prepared to Pay Up – Scripps Settles with FCC to the Tune of $1.13 Million

In an order released this week, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) announced that Scripps Broadcasting Holdings had agreed to a $1.13 Million settlement with the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau to resolve violations of tower lighting monitoring rules. What makes this case especially interesting is that the party who is paying the fine and instituting a years-long compliance plan wasn’t even the party responsible for the wrongdoing! Continue Reading

Davina Sashkin Recognized by LexBlog Excellence Awards

We are proud to announce that Davina Sashkin’s CommLawBlog article “Shutdown Uncertainty: What Broadcasters Should Do Now” was awarded 1st runner up for the Best Breaking News Post of 2019 by LexBlog, the leading blog platform for the legal community. This award is given “for outstanding same-day or second-day reporting of a legal news development”. Congratulations, Davina!

Radiofrequency Exposure Limits Revised: FCC Proposes Expanding Rules to Cover Higher Frequencies

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has resolved many of the issues that it has been considering since 2013 with respect to limits on exposure of human beings to radiofrequency (“RF”) energy. An important aspect of the decision is that existing exposure limits will not be tightened. However, the environmental rules dealing with RF exposure have been significantly re-written, with more uniform criteria for exemptions from environmental assessment, more flexibility in how to establish compliance, and more specificity in required mitigation techniques in exposure risk situations. Continue Reading