About this time each year, as hurricane season ramps up, the FCC issues a notice reminding television broadcasters and other video providers of their obligations to make accessible emergency information to all of the populations which may be using their services – especially if parts of the audience cannot see or hear the emergency information that the service is transmitting. The FCC this week released that notice for this year, with a couple of new wrinkles.
Broadcasters are ramping up the pressure, and the rhetoric, in their attempt to get the FCC to hold off on increasing the regulatory fees it charges TV and radio stations, especially during a pandemic that has done a number on revenue.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly saw his nomination withdrawn by President Trump for having the temerity to question whether the FCC has the authority to adopt rules to limit the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Act. All clear legal signs point to the fact that it doesn’t.
President Trump’s withdrawal of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination isn’t just a breathtaking punishment for a perceived lack of loyalty. It presages a potential Trump second-term FCC that would advance any of his desires and punish any FCC-regulated company he targets.
The FCC yesterday acted to resolve the proceeding begun a year ago to eliminate the rule that prevented an FM or TV broadcaster from denying space to a competing broadcaster on a broadcast tower that it controls. As expected, that rule was eliminated by an order to become effective when it is published in the Federal Register.
Michael O’Rielly has done yeoman work as a member of the Federal Communications
Commission, but this week the White House abruptly pulled his renomination for another
five-year term. The decision speaks better of Mr. O’Rielly than of the president.
Candidates crowd the field for would-be next agency head. Names floated as could-be FCC chair in a Biden administration include former acting chair Mignon Clyburn, top Comcast exec David Cohen and current commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
Applications show the TMobile device could be based on the same dongle as Dish’s AirTV Mini.
The White House said on Monday it was withdrawing the nomination of FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly to serve another term. The announcement came less than a week after Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe said he would block O’Rielly’s nomination over the five-member FCC’s unanimous decision to allow Ligado Networks to deploy a low-power nationwide mobile broadband network.
The FCC took another significant step in the C-Band reallocation process, releasing its final cost category schedule for relocation expenses of C-Band (3.7-4.2 GHz) satellite licensees. The Public Notice accompanying the cost schedule also established Aug. 31 as the deadline for C-Band earth station licensees to elect whether they wish to receive a lump sum reallocation payment.
The FCC has put out for public comment the Trump Administration’s request that it come up with a regime for regulating social media and other website content to prevent what the president claims is anti-conservative bias.
Amazon has received authorization from the FCC to proceed with Project Kuiper, its initiative to launch a fleet of low-orbiting satellites that would be used to provide broadband internet access to underserved communities in the U.S. With the commission’s green light, Amazon will now be able to begin the deployment of its 3,236 satellites.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) has reportedly put a hold on the renomination of Republican FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly over the senator’s opposition to the FCC’s decision to approve Ligado’s use of satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband.
While we are approaching the end of summer in this most unusual year, the regulatory dates keep coming, though perhaps a bit slower than at other times of the year. One of the big dates that broadcasters should be looking for is the announcement of the annual regulatory fees that will likely be paid sometime in September.
The nomination of Republican FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly for a new, five-year, term on the FCC has been favorably reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee and now moves to the full Senate for a vote.
The FCC is trying to remove a potential barrier to the deployment of the ATSC 3.0 technical standard by TV broadcasters by ruling 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. Comments on the matter are due Aug. 17, replies on Aug. 31.
The FCC has issued a Public Notice reminding analog low-power television licensees that all analog transmissions must cease by July 13, 2021, and that deadline will not be extended or waived.
It is too early to make the case spectrum is needed for ATSC 3.0, comments claim.
The FCC’s repack of close to 1,000 TV stations drew to a close, sort of, on Monday (July 13), but on a note very different from when the FCC first started working on the broadcast incentive auction following a congressional mandate to do so back in 2012. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the repack a “remarkable success story” and praised the cooperation among wireless carriers, while NAB EVP Rick Kaplan said they were lucky to have the right person in the job at the right time, referring to Pai.
Joe Biden has signaled that if he becomes President, his FCC will restore the net neutrality rules and FCC oversight authority the Republican FCC jettisoned in the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, as well as working to undo state laws blocking municipal broadband and invest even more in those projects.
The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has denied the second petition to delay the C-band spectrum repack and auction mandated in the 3.7 GHz Report and Order.
In moving to free up Wi-Fi and bolster superfast service, Ajit Pai has alienated some industries, congressional committees and Trump Cabinet leaders.
Local broadcasters could use some regulatory help from the FCC by declaring that vMVPDs or “skinny bundles” must be treated like regular MVPDs and thus subject to retransmission consent obligations. Doing so would put the affiliates in a much stronger position to hang on to vMVPD fees than they are now.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: “The success of local television news in some markets comes even as the broadcast industry in general faces monumental challenges that existed apart from COVID-19, largely due to competition from unregulated high-tech companies openly competing for the same local advertising dollars. And, these successes come despite the obstruction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which overturned well-reasoned efforts by the FCC to modernize outdated media ownership rules last fall.”
The National Association of Broadcasters has asked the FCC to give stations in markets 61-100 more time before they are made subject to the FCC’s video description rules, which were mandated in the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010. The organization cited the pandemic’s effects on some stations in mid-markets.
The telecom giant says the online video market is flourishing and there’s no reason to hold it back from negotiating interconnection agreements with some of the world’s largest companies.
Affiliates of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC are asking FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to revive a years-old proposal to regulate some over-the-top video providers, providers currently beyond the agency’s reach in terms of program access and must-carry/retransmission consent rules.
Broadcasters are pushing back on cable arguments that leased-access rules represent an infringement on cable’s First Amendment rights, and for good reason. If broadcasters want to preserve their cable carriage mandate, which they definitely do in a world where most broadcast viewing is over cable and satellite retransmissions — the cord-cutting trend notwithstanding — they want to nip the First Amendment challenge to that other carriage mandate in the bud.
Nielsen is telling the FCC that it remains the best way to determine if a TV station is getting significant out-of-market viewership. A determination that a station is “significantly viewed” in an adjacent market allows an MVPD serving that market to carry the station, even if it duplicates in-market syndicated or network programming. That importation is otherwise prohibited by the network nonduplication and syndicated exclusivity rules.
Rules giving qualified MVPD buying groups the same good faith bargaining protections enjoyed by operators will go into effect on July 20, according to the FCC.
Broadcasters are telling the FCC that the pandemic makes it that much more important to streamline reviews of foreign ownership in broadcast properties, in part because pandemic-hammered stations may need to convert foreign debt into equity to avoid defaulting on the loans.
FCC watchers should mark their calendars for June 24. That is when the Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled an FCC oversight hearing featuring all five commissioners, according to the committee. It will be the first such oversight hearing since the COVID-19 pandemic.
FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said today that for the commission to consider President Trump’s executive order on social media during the run-up to the election “risks producing a chilling effect construed to make social media companies less willing to flag misinformation.”
The FCC has resolved some major outstanding issues in its framework for a transition to the ATSC 3.0 broadcast transmission standard. It declined to allow vacant in-band channels to be used for ATSC 3.0 deployment, which broadcasters sought but computer companies opposed because they want to use those channels for wireless broadband.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly told the Senate Commerce Committee Tuesday that there continues to be a disconnect between the Department of Justice’s approach to antitrust and the realities of the competitive video marketplace.
One Media, which is owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, said the FCC should adopt the “modest” modifications to its plan for deployment of the ATSC 3.0 advanced broadcast transmission standard, but should also look to be a little less modest, including recognizing the value of distributed transmission to localism. That came in comments on the FCC’s recent rulemaking.