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

Welcoming Elizabeth Craig to Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C.

Washington-area based telecommunications, media, and technology law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. is pleased to announce that Elizabeth Craig has joined the firm as an Associate. A recent law school graduate from American University’s Washington College of Law, Elizabeth interned with the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Mobility Division in 2018. Continue Reading

Calling all Repack-affected LPTV/translator and FM stations!

Has your low power TV station been displaced by the repack? Or perhaps your FM radio station had to move to new or auxiliary facilities to accommodate a TV station repack on your tower? As we have discussed in previous blog posts, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has been authorized by Congress to distribute reimbursements to the licensees of Low Power TV (LPTV) and TV translator stations, as well as to FM stations, for costs incurred to accommodate the post-Incentive Auction TV Repack. Today, the FCC announced the opening of a window for all such impacted station licensees to submit initial eligibility and cost information.  Continue Reading

Children’s TV Reforms – Paperwork Reduction One Step Closer

The Federal Communication Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) released the much-discussed changes in its rules relating to children’s television programming on July 12, 2019 in a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, which include a reduction in the frequency of filing Children’s Television reports and the information required in those reports, more flexibility with respect to program length and pre-emptions, elimination of the additional minimum hours requirement for multiple digital streams, and elimination of the E/I display requirement for noncommercial TV stations.

Federal Register publication is still required for the new rules to become effective,  but adoption of some of the most practical changes, which are those relating to reduced paperwork burdens, nonetheless took one necessary step toward effectiveness.  Any changes in the required collection of paperwork by government agencies from citizens are subject to the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction Act – even in such rare instances as this one of actual paperwork reduction – and are subject to review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).  On August 7, 2019, a notice of such review and opportunity to comment on the OMB proceedings by October 7, 2019, was published in the Federal Register. Continue Reading

REC ‘N’ Roll in the FM Band: LPFM Changes Proposed, NCE-FM Changes Requested

Yes, REC Networks (“RECNET”) is on a roll with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) when it comes to the FM radio broadcast band.  Describing itself as a “leading advocate for a citizen’s access to spectrum with a heavy focus on the LPFM and full-service non-commercial radio,” RECNET has succeeded in getting the FCC to propose modifications to the Low Power FM (“LPFM”) rules and has jumped right back in the game with a new petition to allow the creation of new small non-commercial FM stations in rural areas. Continue Reading

Reminder: EAS National Test Scheduled for August 7

Unless it is delayed by a real national emergency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) are on track to conduct a combined nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) on Wednesday, August 7, at 2:20 p.m. EDT.  For most participants, this year’s test will be disseminated only using the broadcast “daisy chain,” rather than through the internet-based Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (“IPAWS”).  IPAWS this year will be used only to disseminate the test message to Primary Entry Point stations, which will then distribute it through the broadcast daisy chain.

EAS participants should have already filed their EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) Form 1 providing information about their EAS equipment. On August 7, the FCC will be expecting EAS participants to monitor their equipment and, for most participants, to file “day-of-test” ETRS Form 2 by the end of the day. Finally, all EAS participants will also be required to file a post-test ETRS Form 3 no later than September 23.

Based on our experience with previous years’ tests, we would expect that there will be some congestion in the ETRS system after the test, so you should probably be prepared to spend some time completing your filings. Please contact us if you have any questions about the EAS test or the ETRS filing systems.

Now Available: 2019 FCC License Renewal Webinar

On Tuesday, July 30th, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Frank Montero and Dan Kirkpatrick presented a webinar on the FCC license renewal process to the Florida Association of Broadcasters. They covered many steps in the renewal process including the filing of the required FCC Forms for full power radio and translator stations using the new LMS filing system, and questions broadcasters might have on the numerous certifications included in those forms. The webinar also discussed the impact of the online public file (OPIF) on the review and processing of stations’ renewal applications, some of the details relevant to the OPIF are expanded upon in our webinar from April, which we urge you to check out as well.

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 the license renewal process, please reach out to us at fhhwebinar@fhhlaw.com.

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for August – October

Broadcast Deadlines:

August 1, 2019:

License Renewal Pre-Filing Announcements – Radio stations located in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands must begin broadcasts of their pre-filing announcements with regard to their applications for renewal of the license.  These announcements must be continued on August 16, September 1, and September 16. Continue Reading

Barreling Down the Road to 5G, FCC Votes to Relax EBS Spectrum Rules

On June 20, 2019, I blogged about the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) plan to vote on July 10 to relax the rules governing the Educational Broadband Service (“EBS”), including eliminating the requirement to devote part of the air time to educational purposes and opening up license eligibility to commercial entities. Sure enough, the FCC voted, and the proposed rule changes were adopted, although the Commissioners split along political party lines.

Continue Reading

FCC Makes Leased Access Rules More Cable Operator Friendly, Opens the Door to Eliminating Them

On June 7, 2019, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) released a Report and Order (“R&O”) revising the Commission’s rules under which independent programmers may lease cable TV channels to retransmit their programming (“Leased Access Rules”).   Leased Access has rarely been used, due to concerns by both cable operators and programmers, and the recent revisions may make Leased Access even less attractive to programmers.   Furthermore, in a Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) attached to the R&O, the Commission seems to be opening up a proceeding to eliminate the Leased Access Rules in their entirety based on the widespread availability of Internet platforms for distribution of video programming. Continue Reading

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