FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled he plans to follow President Trump’s lead and “clarify” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. He also says he has been assured by FCC lawyers that the FCC has the authority to do so. ““As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean?,” Pai said in a statement. “[M]any advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230. The commission’s General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning.”
It looks like Senate Republicans are going to try and get Nathan Simington confirmed to the FCC before the end of the year and the exit of Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, who he will be replacing. The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled his confirmation hearing for Nov. 10.
The FCC says it has officially moved its headquarters from The Portals at 445 12th St. SW in Washington to 45 L St. NE. The new address is closer to Congress and the headquarters of NCTA-The Internet & Television Association and almost next door to NPR, though the move was about saving money not sidling up to the Hill. It is mostly a mailing and delivery address change for the near term since most FCC staffers continue to work from home during the pandemic.
The FCC is inclined to allow KGW-TV Portland, Ore., to change from a VHF to a UHF, but is seeking input on that inclination. It has given commenters until 25 days after publication of Wednesday’s (Oct. 14) petition for rulemaking in the Federal Register, which usually takes a couple of weeks. There has been a freeze on such changes for almost a decade, dating from when the FCC first started to prepare for the 2016 broadcast incentive auction.
As we reported last week, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear appeals by the FCC and the NAB of a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that overturned a 2017 decision by the FCC attempting to relax its media ownership rules. So, what does this actually mean for the FCC’s ownership rules and the broadcast industry? Not surprisingly based on the history of this proceeding, the answer is not entirely clear.
Broadcasters have scored a victory in the debate with Microsoft over how the FCC should allow for more unlicensed broadband in the so-called white spaces between TV channels.
The country’s top court has taken up a major case about media ownership rules that will have a far-reaching impact on M&A and broadcast regulation.
When it comes to the deployment of ATSC 3.0 and the new services that it can provide to broadcasting and beyond, the NAB tells the FCC it should take a “light regulatory touch.” On a call on Oct. 1, NAB spoke with the FCC Media Bureau on its Notice of Ex Parte Communication that deals with potential ATSC 3.0 regulations, specifically regarding new services that broadcasters could offer the public with the NextGen TV standard.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear the FCC/broadcaster appeal of the Third Circuit’s most recent smackdown of the FCC’s broadcast dereg efforts drew a crowd Friday (Oct. 2). That may be because the FCC for almost two decades has been responding to remands from the Circuit as the commission under Republican chairmen tried to eliminate the newspaper-broadcast crossownership rule and other local station ownership restrictions but this is the first time the Supremes will get involved.
The U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday it will take up a long-running legal dispute over whether the FCC can loosen U.S. media ownership rules. A lower court has thwarted the FCC’s efforts to revise the rules since 2003 in a series of decisions.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said he will be leaving when his term ends (either with the appointment of a successor or by January, whichever comes first) and signaled his supporters don’t need to advocate for keeping him on the commission. The president rescinded O’Rielly’s nomination after the commissioner criticized an effort to regulate social media that Trump supports.
October is an unusual month where there are several routine FCC regulatory deadlines — renewals, EEO filings, Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, and the must-carry/retransmission consent deadline, but no significant broadcast rulemaking comment deadlines, perhaps as we are nearing the end of the current administration which might not be around to finish any proceeding started now.
The FCC has opened a window to allow satellite operators to amend their final C-Band relocation transition plans to account for earth station lump sum payments. Broadcast and cable earth station operators and the satellite operators that service them with programming delivery are having to move out of the lower 300 MHz of the C-band so the FCC can auction tht spectrum for 5G. The earth station operators were given the option of turning in receipts and being compensated for moving their earth stations or taking a lump sum payment.
Oct. 1 is the FCC’s deadline for TV stations to (1) upload to their online Public Inspection Files their must-carry/retransmission consent carriage election statements for the three-year cycle covering Jan. 1, 2021 to Dec. 31, 2023, and (2) notify MVPDs of any changes to their election status.
Gray Television CEO Hilton H. Howell Jr.: “With the nation facing multiple overlapping crises, local news outlets are stepping up with critical local news and information, providing updates on health warnings, coverage of local economies, reports from the street, and news conferences from local officials. The story you won’t see in these broadcasts is that many of these stations, especially those serving small, rural markets, are at risk due to the economic downturn and the shift of local ad dollars to largely unregulated internet platforms, like Google and Facebook.”
The FCC has voted to deny an appeal of its decision that eight station groups failed to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith and has further decided to propose fining each of the 18 stations at issue over $500,000 apiece. It is the first time the FCC has ever issued a forfeiture order for a failure to negotiate retransmission consent in good faith, as its rules require.
President Trump has announced his intention to nominate Nathan Simington to fill the seat being vacated by Michael O’Rielly, whose renomination was withdrawn by the president apparently because O’Rielly was critical of Trump’s effort to regulate social media. Simington is currently senior adviser at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
Should public TV stations that use a portion of their spectrum to provide noncommercial data services have to pay fees for that service? That question is before the FCC in a rulemaking proceeding, with groups including PBS, America’s Public Television Stations and the Public Media Venture Group arguing that the fees are hindering development of ATSC 3.0 “broadcast internet” datacasting.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has circulated a notice of proposed rulemaking establishing new disclosure requirements for TV and radio content sponsored by foreign governments. “With some station content coming from the likes of China and Russia, it is time to update our rules and shed more sunlight on these practices,” he said, urging his colleagues to vote to approve his proposal ASAP.
The FCC is moving away from administrative hearings to a more document-heavy approach to testimony and evidence when called for. That came in a report and order voted Friday (Sept. 11) and released Monday (Sept. 14) that codifies the use of a written hearing process. In the past, such hearings — program carriage disputes have periodically been designated for hearing — have featured live testimony before an administrative law judge (the FCC has only one of those), cross examination and a decision that is only a recommendation to the commission.
Leonard Asper, president & CEO of Anthem Sports & Entertainment, has sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai taking aim at the retransmission consent regime, prompted by the retrans disputes between Dish and Scripps (it was settled last week) and Dish and Cox Media Group (Apollo).
The Democrat-controlled House Communications Subcommittee has scheduled an FCC oversight hearing for Sept. 17 and if its title, “Trump FCC: Four Years of Lost Opportunities,” is any indication, the FCC commissioners should prepare for some tough questions.
She can’t talk about taking the position. But right now, she’s very focused on Trump’s Section 230 executive order and the state of the U.S. digital divide.
The FCC released a Public Notice late Friday afternoon announcing the annual regulatory fees for 2020 are due by 11:59 p.m. ET on Sept. 25, and setting out the procedures for payment.
The FCC’s order on this year’s annual regulatory fees was released by the FCC this week. The commision rejected calls to forgive broadcast regulatory fees because of the economic fallout of the pandemic, noting that only Congress could pass such relief, as the FCC is required by law to collect fees sufficient to cover the costs of its operations.
The FCC isn’t particularly alarmed by the prospect that for some TV watchers, shows like The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul and Killing Eve could be going away. On Monday, the FCC’s Media Bureau denied AMC’s request for a standstill order to preserve its current program carriage agreement with AT&T. As a result, upon the imminent expiration of the deal, AMC could go dark on AT&T platforms including DirecTV and AT&T TV Now. At the moment, that accounts for a quarter of AMC households.
The FCC’s Media Bureau has approved the sale of KLJB Davenport, Iowa; KMSS Shreveport, La.; and KPEJ Odessa, Texas, from Marshall Broadcasting to Mission Broadcasting, saying the sale — out of bankruptcy — is in the public interest.
Cable operators are telling the FCC that retrans regulations should apply to carriage negotiations that include ancillary “broadcast internet” services. That came in comments by NCTA-The Internet & Television Association on the FCC’s inquiry into what, if any, rules need to be changed to accommodate broadcaster’s potential new multichannel services using the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has told a member of the House that the agency is generally not in the business of dictating what viewers can and can’t see. Pai was responding to a letter from Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-N.Y.), who was concerned about a TV show, La Comay, airing on Mega TV in Puerto Rico and containing what she called “a pattern of xenophobic and racist remarks.”
The FCC has extended the deadline for C-Band earth station licensees to submit their lump sum election notices from Aug. 31 until Sept. 14..
The American Television Alliance wants the FCC to require broadcasters using the new ATSC 3.0 broadcast transmission standard to deliver an HD version of their primary broadcast signal before using any of its spectrum for ancillary or supplementary services. That came in comments to the FCC as it decides on the framework for “Promoting Broadcast Internet Innovation Through ATSC 3.0.”
With the lowest unit charge window for the November elections going into effect on Sept. 4, just two and a half weeks from now, we thought that it was a good idea to review the basic FCC rules and policies affecting those charges.
Carolyn Roddy, a senior adviser at the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, and Hill staffer Crystal Tully, are two names that have emerged as potential Republican FCC nominees to replace Michael O’Rielly, whose nomination was abruptly withdrawn by President Trump.
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.