Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for December – February

December 1, 2020

Radio License Renewal Applications Due – Applications for renewal of license for radio stations located in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota 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) within seven days. Continue Reading

FCC Restructures Intelligent Transportation System Rules

On November 19, the FCC issued a Report and Order for which the Wi-Fi community can be justly grateful at their Thanksgiving celebrations. For some years the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) has been concerned that the potential for Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) in the 5.85 – 5.925 band has never panned out.  The automobile manufacturing and public safety communities had touted the ability of this band to provide inter-vehicle and vehicle-infrastructure communications which would significantly improve vehicle safety and traffic management.  The band was therefore allocated for use on a licensed basis for DSRC (Dedicated Short Range Communications) about 20 years ago.  Despite the continued suggestions by the industry that wide-spread rollout of in-care devices that could put the technology to use was imminent, the DSRC plane has continually taxied along the runway at low speed but never taken off.  With Wi-Fi proponents clamoring, as always, for more and more midband spectrum for unlicensed use, the FCC finally decided that a change was needed. Continue Reading

31st Annual FCBA Charity Auction Begins November 10

The following is a message from the Federal Communications Bar Association (“FCBA”):

It’s that time again – on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, the FCBA Young Lawyers Committee and the FCBA Foundation will hold their 31st Annual FCBA Charity Auction virtually this year. While the event is still free and open to the public, unlike prior years, this year you can attend from behind your computer screen. Below are a few quick Q&A’s to get you prepared for what to expect: Continue Reading

Selected New Developments in Broadband – November

Capitol Hill

On November 4, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated he is willing to resume negotiations on COVID-19 relief legislation before the end of the year (he had previously indicated no legislation is possible before the end of the year). Whether this would be standalone legislation or part of a necessary government funding package (budgeted funding ends December 11) remains to be seen. It is possible such legislation could include funding for broadband-related programs, such as the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Continue Reading

Now in Effect: FCC Repeals Radio Duplication Prohibitions

Back in August, we wrote about the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) decision to end the prohibition of commonly owned radio stations in the same service (AM or FM) that have 50% or more overlap of their primary service contours from duplicating more than 25% of their programming. Now that the decision is published in the Federal Register, it is effective immediately, and stations may duplicate programming as they see fit.

Now Available: The New FCC Radio License Filing Window – What You Need to Know

On October 29, Fletcher Heald attorneys Frank Montero and Keenan Adamchak in cooperation with the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (“NFCB”) presented a webinar on the upcoming noncommercial educational (“NCE”) FM and lower power FM (“LPFM”) filing windows. In this webinar, they explored the NCE and LPFM application forms, processes, and FCC tie-breaking criteria, as well as pointing out some of the mistakes that can occur when applying for a frequency.  Being prepared will ensure a smooth process for applicants in the NCE and LPFM filing windows. With guidance from this webinar you can start mapping out your strategy and planning today.

You can watch the webinar here on YouTube and on the NFCB’s website.

FCC Authorizes All-Digital AM Service

Taking the next step in its ongoing efforts to revitalize the AM broadcast service, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has authorized AM radio stations to convert to all-digital broadcasting. Making such a switch is expected both to improve the quality of the signal received by listeners and to expand the area in which the audience can receive a listenable signal. Another advantage is that such broadcasts can include metadata, such as song and artist identification, station identification, and the like, plus there is the future possibility of a separate multicast AM channel. The primary downside is that current analog receivers will be unable to pick up the all-digital broadcasts, which means that listeners that currently do not have a digital AM receiver will need to obtain one. Continue Reading

After 16 Years, FCC Lifts TV Filing Freeze

The Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Media Bureau announced via Public Notice the end of a filing freeze on certain full power and Class A TV station modifications that lasted more than 16 years and the leadership of seven FCC chairpersons. The freeze was part of the FCC’s effort to keep a stable technical database first during the DTV transition, and then the incentive auction and associated repack; now that the transition is over and the post-incentive auction is complete, the FCC deemed it an appropriate time to end the freeze and allow additional discretionary changes to television facilities. Continue Reading

Broadcast Local Public Notice Rule Changes Go Into Effect October 30

The Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC”) Local Public Notice Rule Changes have been published in the Federal Register and will go into effect tomorrow, October 30. These changes – which we detailed at length in a previous post – eliminate the obligation to publish a public notice of certain broadcast applications in newspapers, requiring instead that applicants publish these notices in the Online Public Inspection File (“OPIF”) or application databases. Among other changes, the new rules will also standardize the on-air announcement requirements for broadcast local public notices.

Please note that FCC staff has clarified that the change in the public notice rules does not affect license renewal applications which were filed and released on public notice prior to tomorrow’s effective date. If you still have questions in regards to how this will impact your station, please contact Keenan Adamchak at (703) 812-0415 or adamchak@fhhlaw.com.

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for November – January

Broadcast Deadlines:

November 16, 2020 

Amending the Schedule of FCC Application Fees – Comments are due in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (“FCC” or the “Commission”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting comments on proposed changes to its application fee schedule, which the FCC considers to be significant and which include fee amounts, most of which would increase though a few would decrease or be eliminated, and other processes covered by its fee requirement. Continue Reading