Thomas Criticizes His Past Opinion On Cable

In the case, known as Brand X, the court sided with the Federal Communications Commission’s decision not to regulate broadband cable providers, rejecting a federal appeals court ruling that would have required regulation. “Although I authored Brand X, ‘it is never too late to surrender former views to a better considered position,’ ” Thomas wrote, borrowing language from Justice Robert Jackson in 1950. Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion Monday when the court declined to take on a case asking it to overrule the Brand X decision.

FCC Preps Big Spectrum Moves

The FCC will be making some big spectrum-related decisions Friday (Feb. 28) at its February public meeting that will affect broadcast and cable operators. The commission is scheduled to vote on freeing up 300 MHz of the 500 MHz C-Band satellite spectrum for next-gen terrestrial wireless, in the process repacking satellite operators and their broadcast and cable clients into smaller space and potentially paying those satellite operators billions to exit the spectrum early.

FCC Net Neutrality Docket Heats Up…Again

The FCC posted more than 300 comments to its record-breaking net neutrality docket in just one day last week. That comes after the commission sought comment on several issues identified by the federal court that upheld the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which eliminated network neutrality rules and reclassified internet access as an information service.

STATION ADVISORY

FCC Gets Strict On TV Market Mod Requests

This week, the FCC reiterated a policy of being very tough on petitions to add communities to television markets to change the stations that are considered to be part of the market for cable and satellite carriage purposes.

LPTV, TV Translator Repack Reimbursement Prospects Look Good

Broadcasting Station Ownership Diversity Lacking

The vast majority of broadcast station ownership in the U.S. is still made up of white men, according to the most recent data from the FCC’s fourth biennial report on broadcast station ownership, which represents how things looked in 2017. Prior to this report, the last bit of information available was from 2015.

FCC Clarifies Franchise Fee Dereg

Effectively immediately, the FCC has excised two sentences from its order denying a request for stay of its cable franchise fee deregulation decision, sentences it agrees with cable operators could be misconstrued to allow local franchising authorities to “enforce unlawful franchise provisions unless and until a cable operator has proven to a court that they are unlawful.”

FCC ’21 Budget Plan Built Around Spectrum

The FCC said it needs $481.59 million to conduct its operations next year, up just 0.3% from the current fiscal year and reflecting an expected boost in revenue from spectrum auction fees. Among the notable lines items in the Fiscal Year 2021 budget plan is a $134.5 million request for spectrum auction authority, an increase of nearly $2 million (about 1.5%) from the current year.

STATION ADVISORY

FCC Issues First EEO Audit Of 2020

The FCC yesterday released another of its regular EEO audit notices, asking that approximately 240 radio stations and about 80 TV stations, and the station employment units (commonly owned stations serving the same area) with which they are associated, provide to the FCC their last two year’s of EEO Annual Public File reports, as well as backing data to show that the station in fact did everything that was required under the FCC rules.

FCC Eyes C-Band Public Auction In Dec.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has laid out his plan for how the C-band will be used to spur 5G development, announcing his plans to conduct a public auction of 280 MHz of the spectrum with a potential launch date of Dec. 8.

Pai Pushes TV White Spaces Rule

The long-simmering proposal to use broadcast “white spaces” for rural broadband delivery using TV channels 2 through 35 will be on the FCC’s next meeting agenda, opening a new way to supply a “critical role in providing broadband services to rural and underserved areas,” according to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

ACA Connects Backs NAB Political Ad Petition

FCC Approves MVPD Email Notifications

The FCC has voted to approve an order that allows MVPDs to transition some of their paper notifications to electronic delivery, or as the FCC put it, to update notification rules for the digital age.

Q&A WITH REED HUNDT

Reed Hundt: ‘We Were Naive’ About The Internet

Former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt talks about antitrust, Big Tech platforms, the future of the 1996 provision that provided legal protection to social media companies from liability for harmful content, and Facebook. 

Starks: 3.0 Rollout Raises Privacy, Data Concerns

FCC commissioner Geoffrey Starks warned broadcasters that the new ATSC 3.0 transmission standard starting to be rolled out by TV stations across the country could bring with it the same kind of thorny issues that face tech companies — and have caused Washington to eye new regulations on the edge.

Broadcasters Seek Changes To Avoid 3.0 Delays

NAB, legal counsel for Pearl TV and the general counsel of Meredith met last week with staff of the FCC Media Bureau to discuss the transition to NextGen TV and recommend a change in what broadcasters submit to the agency as part of their ATSC 3.0 license applications to allay concerns over possible contractual indemnification issues.

NAB: Ad Clarification Opponents All Wrong

The National Association of Broadcasters says its opponents have given the FCC no reason to deny NAB’s request that it clarify its disclosure requirements for third-party political ads and follow NAB’s “rationally tailored approach.”

FCC Seeks Engineers For Honors Program

The FCC is opening a window for applications under its Honors Engineer Program that was launched in 2018. During this window, the program is open to recent graduates with an engineering degree and current students who will graduate this spring. “Engineers play a critical and essential role in the work of the FCC, and our recent […]

STATION ADVISORY

Monitor Tower Lighting Or Be Prepared To Pay

The FCC announced that Scripps Broadcasting has agreed to a $1.13 million settlement to resolve violations of tower lighting monitoring rules. What makes this case especially interesting is that the party who is paying the fine and instituting a years-long compliance plan wasn’t even the party responsible for the wrongdoing.

FCC Dismisses WRNN Market Mod Petition

The FCC’s Media Bureau has dismissed a market modification request by independent WRNN for lack of sufficient supporting data, but invited the station to resubmit it with the requisite info. WRNN is an independent station that had been transmitting out of Kingston in upstate New York and is now co-located atop One World Trade Center in Manhattan and licensed to New Rochelle.

Scripps Pays $1M+ To Settle Tower Issues

Scripps Broadcasting has agreed to pay $1,130,000 to settle an FCC investigation into TV tower lighting issues with stations it purchased from Cordillera Communications. The investigation was prompted by the crash of a small plane into a Cordillera TV tower in Kaplabn, La., in 2018.

FCC Seeks Comments On Retrans Change

The FCC has set comment dates for its proposal to allow cable operators to provide notice to customers about potential service or rate changes “as soon as possible.” Initial comments are due Feb. 6 and replies Feb. 21. The FCC voted unanimously on Dec. 12 to propose eliminating the requirement that cable operators provide their subs at least 30 days notice of a TV station channel coming off their systems, changing it to notice “as soon as possible” given that retrans deals are often struck in the 11th hour.

STATION ADVISORY

A Broadcaster’s 2020 Regulatory Calendar

As he does every year, attorney David Oxenford has put together a Broadcaster’s Regulatory Calendar for 2020.  While this calendar can’t be seen as an exhaustive list of every regulatory date that your station will face, it highlights many of the most important dates for broadcasters in this year.

FCC Commissioner Starks Names Media Legal Adviser

Affils: FCC Fails With Political Ad ‘Clarification’

Add the major network affiliate associations to the list of those supporting the National Association of Broadcasters petition to the FCC to clarify its “clarification” of political ad reporting rules, an FCC action they called a failure on all counts.

Microsoft Pushes FCC To Act On White Spaces

Microsoft is telling the FCC that wireless internet providers have been able to boost their throughput tenfold using the TV white spaces Microsoft wants more of, and said the FCC should act on its proposal seeking tweaks to the current white spaces regime.

COMMENTARY

Dayton Mayor, Ex-FCC Commissioner Blast FCC

In our current political climate, local journalism must be protected at all costs. The FCC is clearing the path for its downfall. That’s the opinion of Dayton, Ohio, Mayor Nan Whaley and former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps. They explain why.

NCTA Backs NAB FCC Challenge

Cable operators are on the same page as broadcasters when it comes to the FCC’s approach to political ad disclosures.

STATION ADVISORY

FCC Changes Children’s TV Rules Deadlines

The FCC gave a present to TV broadcasters at the end of last week by issuing a Public Notice announcing the effective date of the remaining changes to the children’s television rules, and postponing the filing date for the initial Children’s Television Programming Report, which was to be filed by Jan. 30, to March 30, 2020.

FCC Names New Chief Technology Officer

Dr. Monisha Ghosh joins the commission from the National Science Foundation. Her background includes extensive experience with wireless technologies, HDTV and cognitive radio for TV white spaces.

FCC Backs More Flexible MVPD Retrans Notices

The FCC has voted unanimously to propose eliminating the requirement that cable operators provide their subs at least 30 days notice of a TV station channel coming off their systems, changing it to notice “as soon as possible” given that retrans deals are often struck in the 11th hour. It must still collect comment on the proposal and vote on a final order, but that will almost certainly happen.

NAB: FCC’s VHF Fees Need To Be Changed

The trade group tells the commission it should revise proposed regulatory fees for VHF stations so that they “more accurately reflect their actual population served.”

FCC: TV Repack Is On Track

Currently in Phase 7 of its broadcast incentive auction repack, the FCC said that as of Dec. 6, 697 of 987 stations being repacked (71%) have moved off their pre-auction channels, with 79% of those having fully transitioned to permanent facilities.

APTS Makes Case To FCC For Aiding FirstNet

America’s Public Television Stations is turning to an FCC rulemaking in an attempt to aid its five-year quest to involve public TV stations in a new national emergency communications system. “To leave public television stations … on the sidelines of the FirstNet infrastructure is to ignore a robust, reliable and ubiquitous partner whose public safety capabilities have proven effective in a variety of critical use cases,” APTS told the FCC in comments.

FCC Names New Chief Information Officer

Francisco Salguero moves from the USDA to oversee the commission’s work in IT development, deployment and information security.

NAB Warns Of 6 GHz ENG Interference

Broadcasters are asking the FCC to make sure it protects incumbent newsgathering operations in the 6 GHz midband spectrum it is eyeing for unlicensed use.

FCC Wants To Reexamine ‘Franken FMs’

FCC Takes Some Lumps At Oversight Hearing

The FCC and its Republican chairman, Ajit Pai, took hits from both sides of the aisle in an oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee Thursday (Dec. 5).

FCC Seeks Input On Analog Radio On DTV

The FCC’s Media Bureau is seeking comment on whether analog LPTV stations should be able to continue to program an analog radio service after the deadline to switch to digital.

FCC Admonishes More Stations Over Political Ads

The FCC has rebuked Meredith’s WPCH Atlanta and Georgia Television’s WSB-TV Atlanta for failing to include “certain requests to purchase political ad time” for non-candidate issue ads in their public files. The admonishment, which is a black mark that goes on their permanent records, resolves a half-dozen complaints filed by Issue One and the Campaign Legal Center dating from August 2017.