FCC Warns Inactive/Non-Responsive C-Band Earth Stations: File or Be Terminated

As readers of CommLawBlog know, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) has reallocated the lower portion of the C-Band used for satellite communications and auctioned that portion of the spectrum for wireless services. In connection with that auction, operators of C-Band Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) earth stations will have to modify their operations out of (“transition”) the lower portion of the C-Band. The FCC structured the nationwide transition plan to include the involvement of the FSS Satellite operators as well as RSM US LLP (RSM), the designated C-Band Relocation Coordinator. Recently, the FCC’s International Bureau published a Public Notice regarding (1) operators of incumbent FSS C-Band earth station antennas that have been reported as no longer operational and (2) incumbent FSS C-Band earth station operators that have not responded to communications from RSM and/or incumbent C-Band satellite operators. That Public Notice requires C-Band Earth Station operators listed in attachments to the Notice to submit to the FCC by April 19, 2021, a statement affirming the continued operation of the identified earth station antennas and their intent to participate in the C-Band transition. Failure by those identified operators to make that submission will result in automatic termination of the earth station authorizations, and removal from the list of “incumbent” earth stations entitled to protection from interference, and may not be entitled to assistance and reimbursement in connection with the transition. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for March – May

Broadcast Deadlines:

March 12, 2021

NPRM: Permit FM Booster Stations to Transmit Geo-Targeted Content – Reply Comments are due in response to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with regard to possible changes to the booster station rules that could enable FM broadcasters to use FM booster stations to transmit geo-targeted content (e.g. news, weather, and advertisements) independent of the signals of its primary station within different portions of the primary station’s protected service contour for a limited period of time. Continue Reading

New Webinar: Writing Contracts for a Post-COVID World

For over a year, COVID-19 has created immeasurable change to our way of life and the global economy. By now, you have probably already heard of or dealt with contractual disputes—from advertising to insurance and many other fields—related to non-performance caused by the pandemic. While many cases are still being litigated, it is important to understand the direction in which these may go. Just as important is answering the question: How will future contracts be written to account for potential public health emergencies?  

On Tuesday, March 23 (12 noon EST), join Fletcher Heald Attorney Thomas Urban for a complimentary, hour-long update on the complexity of contract litigation in our COVID-19 world and anticipating where we go from here. This will include a Q & A session, so bring any lingering questions you may have.  

What Will You Learn?  

  • How COVID-19 is impacting pending litigation  
  • The contract doctrines that will determine who shoulders the cost of non-performance  
  • Differences in state-level enforcement of several clauses  
  • Where contract litigation is headed with a new administration in Washington 


ATSC 3.0 Order Encourages the Deployment of Broadcast Internet Services

On December 10, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) released a Report and Order that is intended to encourage further deployment of the ATSC 3.0 Next Generation Television Standard (ATSC 3.0), and particularly to facilitate the expansion of new and innovative ancillary and supplementary “Broadcast Internet” services by noncommercial educational (NCE) stations. These Broadcast Internet services are distinct from traditional over-the-air video programming services.

The Report and Order is the culmination of a proceeding commenced last year with the Commission’s release of a Declaratory Ruling and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). That Declaratory Ruling clarified that a broadcaster’s lease of spectrum to a third party for provision of ancillary, non-broadcast services does not trigger attribution for the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules. In the NPRM, the Commission sought comment on several issues to enhance the growth of ATSC 3.0-enabled Broadcast Internet services. The Report and Order acts on a number of those issues.  Continue Reading

The Implications of COVID-19 on Contract Law

For nearly a year, the world has battled a pandemic defined as Coronavirus-19 or COVID-19. This virus has caused enormous damage worldwide in terms of human life, health, and economic devastation. This destruction has been acutely felt here in the United States, with the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the long-term illness of millions, as well as severe economic loss due to factors beyond the control of those who have been affected. Continue Reading

Offense Not Limited to the Field: The NFL’s Aggressive Push To Protect Its Trademarks

It’s that time of year again when the biggest event in professional football triggers all sorts of questions from broadcasters and advertisers about how that event may be mentioned in broadcast programming.  You guessed it:  I’m talking about the Super Bowl.

Most people have undoubtedly heard the Super Bowl referred to as “the Big Game” or the “Sunday Game” by advertisers who are continuously coming up with new and imaginative ways to refer to the Super Bowl without actually uttering the words.  Some other peculiar terms thrown about include Touchdown Tournament, Big Football Time, and Tom Brady Day.  My personal favorite is the Superb Owl. What can I say – I’m not an Eagles fan. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for February – April

Broadcast Deadlines:

February 1, 2021

Radio License Renewal Applications Due – Applications for renewal of license for radio stations located in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma 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. Under the new public notice rules, radio stations filing renewal applications must begin broadcasts of their post-filing announcements concerning their license renewal applications between the date the application is accepted for filing and five business days thereafter and must continue for a period of four weeks. Once complete, a certification of broadcast, with a copy of the announcement’s text, must be posted to the Online Public Inspection File (“OPIF”). Continue Reading

Selected New Developments in Broadband – January

Capitol Hill

Although President Trump criticized the final $900 billion COVID-relief legislative package (containing both COVID-relief and an omnibus spending bill that averted a government shutdown) for providing too little financial relief to Americans and too much wasteful spending, on December 27 he signed the package into law. Continue Reading

Davina Sashkin Elected Co-Managing Member of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth

Washington, DC – Telecommunications, media, and technology law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, P.L.C. (FHH) is pleased to announce that Davina Sashkin has been elected to serve as as Co-Managing Member of the Firm effective January 1. 2021. Ms. Sashkin joins current Co-Managing Members Matthew H. McCormick and Dan A. Kirkpatrick in overseeing the Firm’s strategic vision and day-to-day operations. She will continue to serve in her role as Chair of the Firm’s Marketing Committee. Continue Reading

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for January – March

Broadcast Deadlines:

January 30, 2021

Children’s Television Programming Reports – Each commercial TV and Class A television station must electronically file its annual Children’s Television Programming Report, on FCC Form 2100 Schedule H, to report on programming aired by the station and other efforts in 2020 that were specifically designed to serve the educational and informational needs of children.

Commercial Compliance Certifications – Each commercial TV and Class A television station must post to its Online Public Inspection File (OPIF) a certification (or certifications) of compliance during 2020 with the statutory limits on commercial time during children’s programming. The certification(s) should cover both the primary programming stream and all subchannels aired by the station. Continue Reading