FCC Adopts Rules for Distributing Repack Funds to FM Stations and FM Translators

[Editor’s Note:  This is part 2 of a 2-part series.  Part 1, addressing repack funds for LPTV and TV Translator stations, is available here]

As we reported in August 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”)  at that time released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking laying out how it would parcel out reimbursement funds for Low Power TV (LPTV), TV Translator, and FM stations impacted by the post-incentive auction repacking of full-power television stations.  The Commission has now adopted an Order with the final rules governing such reimbursements.  While the rules are largely as proposed in the NPRM, there are a few crucial differences.  This post provides an updated report on how reimbursements will be issued.

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FCC Adopts Rules for Distributing Repack Funds to LPTV and TV Translator Stations

[Editor’s Note:  This is part 1 of a two part series.  Part 2, addressing repack funds for FM stations, will be available tomorrow]

As we reported in August 2018, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) at that time released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking laying out how it would parcel out reimbursement funds for Low Power TV (LPTV), TV Translator, and FM stations impacted by the post-incentive auction repacking of full-power television stations.  The Commission has now adopted an Order with the final rules governing such reimbursements.  While the rules are largely as proposed in the NPRM, there are a few crucial differences.  This post provides an updated report on how reimbursements will be issued.

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Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for April-June

Broadcast Deadlines:

April 1, 2019:        

License Renewal Pre-Filing Announcements – Radio stations located in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia must begin their pre-filing announcements with regard to their applications for renewal of license.  These announcements must be continued on April 16, May 1, and May 16.

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LPTV-Translator Displacement and Companion Channel Freeze Lifted

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) has announced in a public notice on March 19, 2019, that it will lift the 9-year old freeze on applications for displacement relief and digital companion channels by Low Power Television and TV Translator stations (together, “LPTV”).  Applications will be accepted starting April 18, 2019.

The new filing opportunity is only for applications by displaced stations.  Applications for channel changes by stations that are not displaced will not be accepted; nor will applications filed by new stations for construction permits be accepted.

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Continued Controversy About Overtime Rules: No, not the NFL; the FLSA

[Blogmeister’s Note: To re-state an obvious but important point that our blogger, Kevin, has previously made, neither he nor we are “employment” lawyers. But readers and others have expressed enough interest in the coming changes to the federal minimum wage and overtime rules that he thought it a good idea to take a look at what’s in store. The following overview is intended to provide useful background information; it should not be taken as a comprehensive explanation or exhaustive history of the subject, and certainly not “legal advice”. If you have questions about the coming changes, be sure to contact an employment lawyer.]

Almost three years ago, I wrote about some proposed changes to the “overtime rules” under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which, if enacted, would move approximately 4.1 million workers from “exempt” to “nonexempt” status, entitling them to overtime pay for work performed in excess of 40 hours per week.  The proposed changes, which were approved and given an effective date of December 1, 2016, were eventually stayed by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas before being repealed entirely in the early days of the current Administration.

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Frank Jazzo Honored at NAB State Leadership Conference

We are proud to congratulate retired FHH member Frank Jazzo on his recent recognition at the NAB State Leadership Conference. Overall, it was a wonderful presentation with some of his closest clients offering warm testimonials. Quite simply, “Frank Jazzo is the guy to know. He’s smart, he’s kind, he’s great at his job,” said John Charles Rose (Owner of WIZS Radio).

NAB President Gordon Smith presented the award to “The Jazz Man” (as we affectionately refer to him, even though he’d probably prefer “The Boss”) in recognition of Frank’s more than thirty years of service to many (emphasis on the “many”) state broadcast associations. As Paula Maes (President/CEO of the New Mexico Broadcasters Association) put it: “many of you may say ‘Better Call Saul’, we say ‘Better Call Frank’.” Chances are, if you listened to local radio in the United States any time in the last 35 years, you partly have Frank to thank.

Here is a video of those good wishes, courtesy of the NAB:

 

Comments and Replies Date Set for Media Ownership Rule Review

In December we reported that the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) commenced their 2018 Quadrennial Review of media ownership rules by adopting a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”). On February 28, that NPRM was published in the Federal Register, establishing the comment and reply comment dates in the proceeding. Comments on the NPRM will be due by Monday, April 29 and replies by Wednesday, May 29.

RMLC-GMR Continue to Fight (but Also Agree To Extend Interim License for Yet Another Six Months)

One of the most famous movie franchises ever is the “Rocky” series.  From its origin as an underdog story where an unknown fighter named Rocky Balboa shocks the world by taking heavyweight champion Apollo Creed the distance (spoiler alert: only to lose the fight but get the girl) through sequels II (Rocky Wins!), III (Mr. T shines as Clubber Lang), IV (Draaaaaaggggooooooooo!!!!!!), V (featuring real-life fighter Tommy Morrison), and, finally, Rocky Balboa (why not just Rocky VI?), millions of dollars and movie history were made over the span of thirty years (and that doesn’t include the two “Creed” spinoffs which take us into the present day and may or may not count as “Rocky” movies). Continue Reading

Reversing the Trend of Deregulation, FCC Tackles Caller ID Spoofing Head-on

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) continued its long-running fight against unwanted robocalls earlier this month, but the steps the Commission proposed may not make a significant impact immediately. On Friday, February 15th, the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (“NPRM”) seeking comment on issues associated with implementing new caller ID spoofing rules adopted by Congress as part of the 2018 RAY BAUM’S Act (“RB Act”). The proposals are part of a broader set of Commission actions targeting the scourge of robocalls. Continue Reading

Broadcasters Seek New Business Opportunities Amid Legalization of Industrial Hemp Products (Including CBD Oil)

There’s a green wave coming in the form of expanding marijuana legalization across the US, and many of the people trying to take advantage of this green wave are also trying to turn it into another kind of green: money. Broadcasters are also looking to take advantage of these new revenue opportunities, but because marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, Fletcher Heald has continued to advise its clients not to advertise marijuana or marijuana derived products. Federal law also prohibits using a radio or TV station to commit or facilitate a felony. With the sale of marijuana remaining a felony under federal law (even if enforcement is deprioritized) broadcasters could be charged with a felony for using their station to facilitate – through advertising – the sale of marijuana. If convicted, a broadcaster would have to disclose the conviction to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) and would likely lose the ability to hold an FCC license (in addition to being convicted of a felony). Continue Reading

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