FCC Adopts Final Deadlines for Submission of C-Band Reimbursement Claims

On December 5, 2023, the FCC released a Public Notice adopting two final reimbursement claims submission deadlines for eligible incumbents and stakeholders as part of the ongoing transition of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band (“C-band”).  Claimants seeking reimbursement for all claims for C-band transition costs incurred and paid by claimants as of December 31, 2023, including all lump sum election claims by incumbent earth station operators, must file no later than February 5, 2024.  For any costs incurred after December 31, 2023, claimants will have until July 1, 2024.  Claimants must submit any and all reimbursement claims to the C-band Relocation Payment Clearinghouse (“RPC”) by these dates. 

The RPC has been accepting C-band reimbursement claims for processing since August 2021, and the Commission anticipates wrapping up the C-band reimbursement program by the middle of next year.  In order to facilitate the RPC’s processing of claims on a rolling basis and to expedite the completion of the C-band reimbursement program, the Commission strongly encourages claimants to submit any claims incurred within 30 days of payment and not wait until the deadlines to do so.   

For the small number of anticipated claims that may be incurred and/or paid after July 1, 2024, whether a one-time or recurring cost, the claimant must submit the claim(s) for RPC review through its Coupa portal to be considered for reimbursement, and pursuant to its procedures before the July 1, 2024 deadline, must include the best supporting documentation and information available at that time.  Any claims which are not submitted in this manner by the relevant deadline will be considered by the RPC as untimely and will not be processed or reimbursed. 

If you have any questions or would like assistance with filing any C-band reimbursement claims, contact your FHH attorney for guidance. 

Reminder: Annual DTV Ancillary/Supplemental Services Report Due December 1st

All commercial, Class A, and Low Power television stations that provided feeable ancillary or supplemental services between October 1, 2022 and September 30, 2023 must file an Annual Ancillary/Supplemental Service Report by December 1, 2023.  Reports are filed on a station-by-station basis in the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (LMS) on Form 317.  

“Ancillary or supplementary services” include any services provided on the portion of a station’s spectrum not needed to transmit the one free, over-the-air video broadcast that licensees are required to transmit.  Multiple video streams that are received free to the public are not considered ancillary or supplementary services.         

The reports must describe the feeable ancillary or supplemental services, list the amount of DTV bitstream used to provide them, and identify gross revenues derived from the services.  Stations must also concurrently pay to the FCC 5% of that gross revenue. 

If you have questions or need any assistance with this filing requirement, please contact your FHH attorney. 

FCC Releases Draft Report and Order to Allow Certain LPTVs to Convert to Class A

On November 22, 2023, the FCC circulated a draft Report and Order (“R&O”) that would, if adopted, provide some Low Power TV stations with the opportunity to convert their stations to Class A status. The draft Report and Order is slated to be voted on at the FCC’s next Open Meeting on December 13, 2023.

If adopted at the Open Meeting, the R&O would implement the requirements of the Low Power Protection Act (“LPPA”) for this filing window, including eligibility criteria, requirements based on local production of programming, operation requirements, and interference requirements, as well as other items.

Generally, the LPPA limits filing eligibility to those LPTV stations that can demonstrate that they operated as of January 5, 2023 in a DMA with not more than 95,000 television households. Further, during the period of October 7, 2022 through January 5, 2023 (i.e., 90 days before enactment of the LPPA), stations must have satisfied all of the requirements both for LPTV stations as well as for Class A stations under the Community Broadcasters Protection Act, which established the Class A TV service. Lastly, converted stations would be subject to the same terms and renewal standards as a full-power TV licensee and would generally be required to remain in compliance with the LPPA’s eligibility criteria during the term of the station’s license.

The FCC has not yet indicated when the filing window would open, but the R&O provides that the window will be open for a period of one year, absent circumstances that prevent a licensee from timely filing, which will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Stay tuned for updates on this filing window, and if you have any questions regarding the draft R&O or the proposed filing window, please contact your FHH attorney. Happy Thanksgiving!

Reminder: November 29th Deadline for FCC Filing to Protect 12.7-13.25 GHz Broadcast Auxiliary/Cable Relay Licenses

We remind parties with 12.7 – 13.25 GHz (“13 GHz”) Broadcast Auxiliary/Cable Relay licenses that you have until November 29, 2023 to make a filing at the FCC to protect those licenses, as the FCC moves towards repurposing some or all of that band for other uses.    

In a May 19, 2023 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC proposed to repurpose some of the 13 GHz Band for use as mobile broadband.   In that Notice, the Commission proposed to define certain incumbent operations entitled to protection or relocation during a transition period, based on the FCC’s licensing records.   For most Broadcast Auxiliary (“BAS”) and Cable Relay  (“CARS”) licenses, the Commission proposed to limit eligibility for protected  incumbent status to licenses for which the licensee has filed a required certification regarding the accuracy of the information on their licenses, and that the licenses remain in use.   The only exception to this filing requirement is for BAS/CARS licenses filed for after January 1, 2021.  

In a subsequent Public Notice, the FCC provided detailed instructions as to how to make the required filing in FCC databases.   Entities with 13 GHz BAS or CARS licenses who seek to maximize the protection of those licenses should review the instructions in the Public Notice and file the required certification.    

If you have questions about these requirements, or need assistance in filing, please contact us.  

FCC Announces Another Round of EEO Audits

On October 30, 2023, the FCC released yet another list of broadcast stations that will be audited regarding their compliance with the FCC’s Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) rules. Licensees of the audited stations will have to upload their audit responses to their online public inspection files by December 14, 2023.   

Approximately twice per year, the FCC randomly selects stations for audit to ensure that they are fulfilling their EEO obligations.  Broadcast “Employment Units” (as that term is defined by the FCC) with five or more full-time employees (30+ hours per week) are required to recruit broadly for minority and female applicants for job openings, and, critically, to document their efforts.  For broadcast employment units with fewer than five full-time employees, an audit response is still required, but response requirements are less rigorous.   

It is essential that stations keep detailed records of their recruitment activities as they will be expected to produce relevant documentation if they are audited.  If you do the job but forget your homework, you can be in for a world of trouble. 

If your station is on the FCC’s EEO audit list, be sure to carefully review the instructions provided in your audit letter and if you have any questions, contact your FHH attorney for guidance.   

FCC Postpones the Filing Window for New LPFM Stations

The FCC announced today via Public Notice that it has revised the filing window period to apply for new LPFM stations, on which we reported in a previous blog post. The filing window was slated to open on November 1, 2023, and close November 8, 2023, but it will now open on December 6, 2023 and close on December 13, 2023 at 6:00 PM EST.  This change comes a week after a group of 16 interested parties filed a request to delay the filing period citing the need to facilitate greater participation and the impact of other regulatory deadlines.  The last LPFM window filing period was 10 years ago.   

As a result of this new window filing period, the existing freeze on filing minor modification applications for FM translators and LPFM stations will also be extended until December 13, 2023. The FCC does not expect to permit any additional extensions due to the impact on the existing FM translators and LPFM which may need to file such applications.   

If you have any questions regarding the LPFM filing window, the new filing deadline, or the application process, please contact your FHH attorney. 

FCC Proposes Power-Up for Digital FMs

The FCC has issued a proposal that would allow more FM stations to increase digital power and allow asymmetric power on digital sidebands.  Interested parties have until September 21 to file comments.  Reply comments are due October 6.   

Power Increase for Digital FM Stations 

In the Order and Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) released on August 1, 2023, the FCC proposed to allow more digital FM stations to operate at power levels up to -10dBc.  To that end, the FCC proposed an updated table for determining a station’s maximum permissible FM Digital ERP.  If adopted, the NPRM would allow stations to increase power by submitting a simple notification on LMS.   

The FCC sought feedback on these proposals.  It also invited comments on related issues, including: 

  • Interference Complaints.  The FCC proposed to extend existing procedures by requiring analog stations that experience digital interference to collaborate with the interfering station to confirm and eliminate interference.  According to the proposal, the analog station would only be permitted to file a complaint if the stations fail to agree on interference remediation measures. 
  • Secondary Services.  The FCC proposed to continue limiting eligibility for interference remediation to full-power stations only. 
  • Notification to Other Stations.  The NPRM tentatively concluded that filing a notification of the power increase also suffices to provide other stations with notice such that no other notice would be required. 

Asymmetric Sideband Operation for Digital FM Stations 

In addition, the FCC proposed to authorize digital FM stations to operate with different power levels on the upper and lower digital sidebands (“asymmetric sideband operation”).  The FCC proposed not to require stations to obtain experimental authorization for asymmetric sideband operation as is currently required.  As with the power increase proposal, stations changing from symmetric to asymmetric sideband operation would only need to file a notification in LMS, if the NPRM is adopted.  

The NPRM solicited comments on related issues as well, including implementation of the same interference complaint and notification procedures as proposed in connection with the digital FM power increase. 

If you have questions about the proposed rules or are interested in filing comments, please contact your FHH attorney. 

EAS Nationwide Test Scheduled for Wednesday, October 4, 2023

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”) and the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) have announced that a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) will take place on October 4, 2023, at 2:20 pm EDT.  

As we previously reported, EAS participants, with limited exceptions, should have already filed their ETRS Form 1 providing the FCC with information about their stations’ EAS equipment.  Any EAS participant that must update their ETRS Form 1 to ensure its accuracy (including changes resulting from transfers of control, updates to EAS equipment or software, or as required by any revision of its State EAS Plan) must do so on or before September 15, 2023

Additionally, most EAS participant must file a “day-of-test” ETRS Form 2 on or before October 5, and a post-test ETRS Form 3 no later than November 20, 2023

All filings must be made on the FCC’s EAS Test Reporting System (“ETRS”).  Filers can access ETRS by visiting the ETRS page of the Commission’s website at:  


If you have any questions or would like assistance preparing your ETRS filings, please contact a Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth attorney and we would be glad to help. 

FCC Announces FM/LPFM Modification Application Filing Freeze

This week, the FCC announced that between September 1, 2023 and November 8, 2023, it will not accept LPFM and FM translator minor modification applications.  This application freeze arises in conjunction with the filing window for LPFM construction permits, which will be open from November 1, 2023 through November 8, 2023.  More details regarding this filing window can be found in a previous FHH blog post linked here.  The goal of the freeze is to promote transparency and predictability for those filing in the LPFM application window, provide sufficient time for applicants and consulting engineers to verify spectrum availability, and minimize expenditures on facility proposals that could be blocked by minor modification filings made immediately prior to the opening of the LPFM window.   

Applicants wishing to file minor modification applications need to do so by August 31, 2023.  If you have any questions regarding the upcoming filing window or would like assistance in preparing a minor modification application before the freeze is enacted, please contact your FHH attorney.   

FTC Updates Advertising Guides and Increases Scrutiny

On June 29th, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released updated rules to combat deceptive advertisements and endorsements. Along with new endorsement guidelines and answers to FAQs, these new rules mark a potential new era of FTC enforcement for advertisers who participate in online marketing.  

There have been huge shifts in the social media advertising landscape since the FTC last updated their endorsement guidelines in 2009. Instagram came online in 2010, the infamous Fyre Festival orange square was posted in 2016, and Twitter has completely overhauled its verification system in the past year. In other words, consumers and advertisers were due for an update on what counts as deceptive advertising online.  

Under the new rules, sponsored content still requires disclosure. Where there is a material relationship between an advertiser and an endorser, that relationship must be disclosed. The disclosure should be clear and conspicuous, and advertisers who fail to make such disclosures may face investigations and fines from the FTC. 

The new rules provide further guidance regarding the disclosure of material relationships between sponsors and social media influencers. The scope and reach of the rules has greatly expanded.  

Some additions to be aware of are: 

“Brand” is now Included in the Definition of “Product.” Advertisements may have to include a disclosure when an influencer is paid to promote a particular brand, not just a specific product or event. 

Advertisers May be Liable for False Statements by Their Endorsers. An advertiser is now subject to liability for misleading and false statements made through endorsements or for failure to disclose a material relationship. Advertiser liability may exist even where an endorser is not liable. The updated guides state that advertisers should: 

  1. Provide guidance to their endorsers on the need to ensure that their statements are not misleading and to disclose unexpected material relationships; 
  1. Monitor their endorsers’ compliance; and 
  1. Take action sufficient to remedy noncompliance and prevent future noncompliance. While not a safe harbor, good faith and effective guidance, monitoring, and remedial action should reduce the incidence of claims of noncompliance, and reduce the likelihood that an advertiser will face an FTC enforcement action. 

Clear and Conspicuous Disclosure Defined. The new FTC rules add a definition of what a “clear and conspicuous” disclosure would entail.  It now means that a disclosure is difficult to miss (i.e., easily noticeable) and easily understandable by ordinary consumers. They further explain that the disclosure should be in the same form as the endorsement itself. For example, if an endorsement is made over audio, then that disclosure should also be made over audio. 

Fake Positive Reviews are Considered Endorsements. Under the new rules, a fake positive review that is posted online is considered an endorsement and therefore subject to the disclosure rules.  

It’s a good time to review your company’s social media policy and contact your communications attorney for any help in complying with the FTC’s updated rules. 


Stay tuned for additional social media compliance pitfalls for broadcasters