FCC Invites Comment on Extending Deadline for Total Price Disclosure for MVPD Services

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has invited comments as to whether it should grant a six-month extension of time for Multichannel Video Program Distributors (“MVPDs”) to comply with the “Right to Transparency” provisions of the Television Viewer Protection Act of 2019 (“TVPA”). This proceeding will be a quick one, with Comments due April 6, and Replies due April 13, perhaps portending the anticipated outcome. Continue Reading

FCC Proposes to Drop Cable TV Public File Reports of Interest in Video Programming Services

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has proposed to eliminate the rule that requires cable television systems to post in their public file information about the nature and extent of their attributable interests in video program services and which of those services they own are carried on their system. Continue Reading

TV Must-Carry/Retransmission Consent Elections Must Be Made This Year: Election Notification System Will Now Be All Electronic

In Report and Orders released in July of 2019 and February of 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has converted the system for television broadcast stations to notify multichannel video program distributors (“MVPDs”), of their election of must-carry or retransmission status from paper sent by certified mail to electronic notices posted on the FCC’s website, with notices sent by email to MVPDs only when and if a station changes its election. MVPDs include cable television systems, Open Video Systems (“OVS”), and direct broadcast satellite systems (“DBS”) Continue Reading

Prepare Your Station to Notify the FCC of a Rebroadcast or Prepare to Be Fined

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or the “Commission”) ordered an FM translator owner to pay a fine of $2,000 for rebroadcasting a primary station without notifying the FCC. According to the forfeiture order released March 2, 2020, Carolina Radio Group Inc. – licensee of FM Translator station W225DF in Raleigh, North Carolina – rebroadcast station WQDR-FM(HD3) for a month without properly notifying the FCC. This information was brought to the Commission’s attention in a complaint.

It is worth noting that the rebroadcast at issue lasted only a month, which goes to show you that even a short-lived violation can be costly. We can only assume that this short duration is the reason behind the Commission’s decision to assess a fine of $2,000 rather than the $7,000 total base forfeitures permitted by the rules.

This order serves as an important reminder that broadcasters must promptly inform the FCC when they have changed the primary station on any of their translator stations. Be sure to contact your communications counsel to report a change as soon as possible!


Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for March – May

Broadcast Deadlines:

March 9, 2020

All-Digital AM Broadcasting – Comments are due in response to the Federal Communication Commission’s (“FCC” or the “Commission”) Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking input on a proposal to allow AM broadcasters to broadcast an all-digital signal using the HD Radio in-band on-channel (IBOC) mode known as MA3. Continue Reading

Clarifying Statements from “Unfinished Business in the RHC Program” Webinar

While press coverage is always welcome, and while most trade reporters are thorough and careful in their reporting, occasionally one must address a situation where a reporter has wildly misunderstood what was said.  That is the case with the Broadband Breakfast article concerning my remarks during an open webinar put on by the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition on January 29, 2020.

The webinar entitled “Unfinished Business in the RHC Program” focused on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Health Care (RHC) program reform order from last summer.  Having drafted one of the petitions for reconsideration of that order filed last fall, I am on record with certain criticisms of the Commission’s reform effort, which I recounted during the webinar.  Unfortunately, those criticisms were garbled in the Broadband Breakfast account of my remarks.  We contacted the reporter at Broadband Breakfast multiple times and requested corrections which included misspellings of my name.  It does not appear any corrections were made. Continue Reading

The FCC’s Political File Rules: Is Your Station in Full Compliance?

Super Tuesday is less than two weeks away, Michael Bloomberg is spending a king’s ransom on political advertisements, and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) is actively engaged in investigating stations’ compliance with the political file rules. Now is the time to make sure your station staff understands the FCC’s political file requirements and implements any required changes in your procedures. Continue Reading

If Your Program Sounds Like It’s Live, but Isn’t, You Must Tell the Audience (Or Suffer the Consequence)

In late January, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) released a Consent Decree penalizing Salem Media Group to the tune of $50,000 for “violat[ing] the FCC’s live broadcast rules by broadcasting prerecorded programming as ‘live’ without announcing before the broadcast that the programming was prerecorded.” In addition Salem has agreed to a three-year compliance plan to ensure the violation does not occur in the future. Continue Reading

Available Now: Getting into the Weeds of CBD & Marijuana Advertising

On Wednesday, January 29th, Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth’s Frank Montero, Dan Kirkpatrick, and Seth Williams presented a webinar that got “into the weeds” of CBD and marijuana advertising. New questions have been raised since the US Department of Agriculture in 2019 published their interim rules on the “Establishment of Domestic Hemp Projects”. To address broadcasters concerns, this webinar –  which we are proud to say was offered to the members of over 30 state broadcast associations – covered:

–          Differences between marijuana and hemp

–          Advertising of marijuana

–          Advertising ancillary businesses

–          Advertising of CBD and hemp-derived products

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 these issues, please reach out to us at fhhwebinar@fhhlaw.com.

Upcoming FCC Broadcast and Telecom Deadlines for January – March

Broadcast Deadlines:

January 31, 2020

Biennial Ownership ReportsAll licensees and entities holding an attributable interest in a licensee of one or more AM, FM, TV, Class A television, and/or Low Power TV (LPTV) stations must file a biennial ownership report reflecting information as of October 1, 2019. Please recall that not only corporations and limited liability companies, but also sole proprietorships and partnerships composed entirely of natural persons (as opposed to a legal person, such as a corporation), are included in the licensees that must file reports. Please recall that noncommercial and commercial entities are required to file by the same date. Additionally, all persons holding an attributable interest in a commercial licensee must have acquired either an FCC Registration Number (FRN) or Restricted Use FRN. Continue Reading