Webcaster Wake Up Call!

We usually publish our “Webcaster Wake Up Call!” post each January.  This post reminds webcasting services of their compliance obligations for the upcoming year under the statutory licenses found in Sections 112 and 114 of the Copyright Act (the “statutory licenses”) allowing them to publicly perform sound recordings via digital audio transmission.  Part of the reason we usually wait until January is because the first of those obligations, the filing of an Annual Minimum Fee Statement of Account form and payment of $500 per webcasting channel, must occur on or before January 31 of each year (and the paper-based forms in question sometimes were not available until the beginning of the year). Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for December/January/February

December (the most wonderful time of the year) often carries with it a sense of retrospection.  We start looking back on the year that was, compiling “Best of” lists, tying up loose ends, getting those last donations and expenses in under the wire. Of course, there’s also plenty of forward-looking at what the new year might bring.  This post falls into the latter category and it’s looking at the wonderful FCC-related deadlines that will await us as we return from our holiday breaks.

Please note that the list is NOT exclusive, so there may be others. For help meeting these deadlines or answering questions about any that may not be listed here, please contact FHH at 703-812-0400. Continue Reading

Legitimate Robocallers Rejoice: TCPA Compliance is About to Get (Slightly) Easier

Believe it or not, there are companies that make legitimate “robocalls,” and those companies strive to comply with the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). If you’ve received an appointment reminder from your doctor or dentist, a package delivery notification, or a school closure notification lately those messages were likely delivered to your phone using an automated calling system (robocalling). For these legitimate robocallers, TCPA compliance is a constant challenge, and one of those challenges is making sure not to call reassigned phone numbers for which the caller no longer has consent to make robocalls. Failure to meet this challenge can create significant financial risks from class action litigation or Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) enforcement action.

For years, service providers that enable robocalling and the companies that rely on those robocalls for communicating with consumers have wanted the FCC to create a reassigned number database. Such a database would help a caller know when a consumer who has consented to receive robocalls stops using the number the consumer provided to the caller. In turn, the caller could then stop making calls to that number before it is reassigned to a new end user.

At long last, businesses that make and rely on legitimate robocalls are getting what they want — sort of. Continue Reading

Now Available: 2018 FCC EEO Rules Webinar

With FCC license renewals fast-approaching and public inspection files now all on line, it is time to seriously review and assess your FCC EEO compliance (….that is before the FCC does it for you!).  In collaboration with the Colorado Broadcasters Association and the New Jersey Broadcasters Association, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Dawn King, Anne Crump, Frank Montero, and Dan Kirkpatrick presented a webinar providing a refresher on the FCC’s EEO rules……what you need to know and what you need to do and whether or not it’s time to panic.  Dawn, Anne, Frank and Dan discussed all aspects of a licensee’s FCC EEO obligations, which include conducting recruitment, record-keeping and reporting appropriately.

If you were unable to log in to watch the webinar live or you if you want to review the high points again, you can download and print the presentation in PDF form here.  If you want to watch the webinar in its entirety, please email Dan Kirkpatrick at kirkpatrick@fhhlaw.com.

FCC to Radio Licensees: We’re Watching You (or at Least Your Public Files)

With the whirl of the holiday season upon us, most broadcasters rightly thought they could put off looking ahead to the next license renewal cycle until 2019. Au contraire, says the FCC, which began sending out blast emails to certain radio licensees on December 6, warning that FCC internal audits have revealed that many stations’ online public files (OPIF) are not up to snuff.

Thanks to the Commission’s shift in recent years to requiring maintenance of radio and TV stations’ public inspection files on an FCC-hosted online system, the upcoming license renewal cycle is poised to be fraught with potential pitfalls for broadcasters. One can argue that the FCC is actually doing these stations a favor by pointing out problems now, while you still have time to fix them. Continue Reading

Bipartisan TRACED Act Seeks to Reduce Robocalls

Before Thanksgiving, a bipartisan group of Senators introduced legislation aimed at decreasing the number of unwanted robocalls.

The TRACED Act would expand FCC authority under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”), empower the FCC to mandate call authentication rules for voice service providers to cut down on caller ID spoofing, and create an interagency working group to encourage other law enforcement and government agencies to do more to fight illegal robocalls. Continue Reading

Please Welcome Seth Williams!

Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth is pleased to announce a new member of our team!  Seth Williams joined us as an associate on November 15 after spending several years in private practice at another D.C.-area law firm.  While still in school, Seth also gained experience in several areas of communications law, working as an intern at PCIA:  The Wireless Infrastructure Association, in the office of former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn (during the period when she was Acting Chairwoman to boot), and in the Audio Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau.

Seth boasts an impressive educational resume as well. He is a “double Hoosier” by virtue of getting two degrees in Bloomington: a B.A. (in Journalism and Political Science) from Indiana University before attending IU’s Maurer School of Law, where he served as Articles Editor of the Federal Communications Law Journal (before the publication relocated to George Washington University Law School).  Clearly a man of knowledge, Seth later came to D.C. to get an LLM (that’s a Master of Laws should you care) in Communications Law from the Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law.  He’s not only well-studied, but well written, having already published several articles on media law-related topics, including the Stored Communications Act, mobile privacy disclosures, and the FCC’s increased reliance on adjudication (co-authored with another FHH Associate, Keenan Adamchak, before either joined our midst).

“I’m excited to join Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth,” Seth said. “I wanted to join a firm focused on telecommunications issues with an outstanding reputation among members of the telecommunications bar, and when I had the opportunity to talk to several members of the firm, I knew I found the perfect fit.”

Licensed to practice law in Indiana and the District of Columbia (and, hopefully Virginia soon enough), Seth spends his time outside the office playing ice hockey, visiting some of Virginia’s local breweries and distilleries, and like any good Hoosier, watching college basketball.

We are delighted to have Seth join Fletcher Heald’s growing and diversifying practice,” said Co-Managing Member Kathleen Victory. “He brings experience and enthusiasm that will add our newest generation and be a welcome addition to our bench of experienced attorneys.”

You may have already noticed that Seth is contributing to the blog as he published a post about hearing aid comparability reporting requirements on November 21.

Please join us in welcoming Seth to FHH. You can reach him at williams@fhhlaw.com or 703-812-0479.


FCC Streamlines Hearing Aid Compatibility Reporting Requirements for Service Providers

On November 16, 2018, the FCC released a Report and Order amending the hearing aid compatibility (“HAC”) reporting requirements for wireless service providers. In short, the order changes the emphasis for disseminating HAC information to consumers from FCC reports to service provider websites, requiring service providers to post additional information on their websites about the hearing aid compatibility of their wireless phone models (“handsets” in the FCC’s nomenclature). It also eliminates an annual reporting requirement for service providers and replaces it with an annual certification of compliance with HAC requirements. Continue Reading

Deadline Announced for AM Revitalization Comments

Attention all you AM radio nostalgia buffs and others interested in the future of AM radio, who hopefully read our post of October 10 about the FCC’s proposals to allow higher power operation by smaller AM stations by reducing nighttime signal protection for 50 kW Class A AM stations.  The FCC’s proposals have been published in the Federal Register, establishing the deadline for Comments January 22, 2019, with Reply Comments due February 19, 2019.

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for November/December

Let’s play some word association. If we say “Deadlines”, you might answer “Scary.”  Hence, the reason we’re publishing our November and December FCC deadlines post on Halloween.  Only, unlike the ghouls and goblins you may see on the streets tonight, these are real! Please note that the list is NOT exclusive, so there may be others. For help meeting these deadlines or answering questions about any that may not be listed here, please contact FHH at 703-812-0400. Continue Reading