Remember Children’s Television Compliance Obligations – The FCC Does Not Forget

Broadcast Law Blog

With the obligation of television stations to file the quarterly Children’s Television Reports on FCC Form 398 by Monday (as the usual January 10 date is on a weekend) and the simultaneous requirement to place into their online public file documentation of compliance with the commercial limits in Children’s programming , it is worth reminding stations of the seriousness with which the FCC continues to view its children’s television rules.

Reminder: A Broadcaster’s FCC EEO Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

With the Martin Luther King Day holiday just passed, it seems appropriate to review the FCC’s EEO rules , which look to promote broad access to broadcast employment opportunities. We have written about the FCC audit process by which it will review the EEO performance of approximately 5% of all broadcast stations each year (see, e.g. our articles here and here ) and also about recent fines for stations that did not comply with the FCC requirements in specific areas.

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FCC Chairman Reminds TV Broadcasters of the Importance of their Online Political File Obligations as its Staff Investigates Complaints about Deficiencies

Broadcast Law Blog

This week, the FCC’s Office of Political Broadcasting in its Media Bureau sent letters to all of the stations involved, asking that the stations respond to the complaints and provide details about the factual assertions that were made, by May 27. At the same time, the FCC Chairman issued a Statement , reminding TV broadcasters of the importance of the political file, and how seriously the FCC takes any violations of its rules.

What Washington Has in Store for Broadcasters in 2015 – Part 1, What’s Up at the FCC

Broadcast Law Blog

Each year, at about this time, we pull out the crystal ball and make predictions of the issues affecting broadcasters that will likely bubble up to the top of the FCC’s agenda in the coming year. Sometimes policy decisions will come from individual cases, and sometimes they will be driven by a particular FCC Commissioner who finds a specific issue that is of specific interest to him or her. Stations should be alert to these deadlines and watch for further FCC actions in this area.

FCC Clarifies Public File Obligations for Identifying Issues and Sponsors for Political Ads – Admonishes Numerous TV Stations for Violations

Broadcast Law Blog

Late Friday, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued an order (at this time available in Word format only, here ) clarifying its public file rules for political ads – both ads from candidates and from third-party groups. The FCC’s clarifications require broadcasters who run candidate or issue advertising to include information about not only the candidates mentioned in an ad, but also any Federal issues that the ad addresses.

Updated Political Broadcasting Guide – Questions and Answers about Broadcasters’ Obligations During this Election Season

Broadcast Law Blog

We have also written here and here about issues that are currently pending at the FCC about the proper sponsorship identification tag that belongs on an ad paid for by a PAC that is funded by one individual. In the past few months, I have been a part of a number of seminars on these rules (see, for instance, this article for the slides outlining a broadcaster’s obligations from one such presentation).

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Obligations, Repacking Reports and More

Broadcast Law Blog

The beginning of a calendar quarter always brings numerous regulatory obligations, and October is one of those months with a particularly full set of obligations. These reports are the FCC’s only official record of how a station served its community. TV stations have the additional quarterly obligation of filing with the FCC by October 10 their Quarterly Children’s Television Reports, Form 398. EEO obligations also arise for stations in a number of states.

FCC Reminder to Video Programming Distributors – Including Broadcasters – on Accessibility Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

With the recent hurricanes and last night’s tragedy in Las Vegas, the FCC Public Notice issued last week reminding all video programmers of the importance of making emergency information accessible to all viewers seems very timely. As the FCC also reminds readers of its notice of the ways in which to file complaints against video programming distributors who do not follow the rules, TV broadcasters need to be extremely sensitive to all of these requirements.

FCC Regulation of Internet Video? – Dates Set for Comments on Treating Over-the-Top Video Providers like Cable and Satellite TV

Broadcast Law Blog

Whether to treat Internet video providers by the same rules that apply to cable and direct broadcast satellite systems is the subject of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released by the FCC just before Christmas, notice of which was published in the Federal Register today , setting the comment dates on the proposal. And the FCC has defined a TV channel as one comparable to what is delivered by broadcast TV. But just what video would be covered by the FCC’s proposal?

5 Questions on the Meaning of the FCC’s Recent Ruling on Online Recruiting – How Does it Change a Broadcaster’s EEO Obligations?

Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC recently issued a declaratory ruling (which we summarized here ) addressing the requirement that broadcasters widely disseminate information about all of their job openings in such a way as to reach all of the groups within their communities. The recent FCC decision stated that a broadcaster can now rely solely on online sources to meet the wide dissemination obligation. This decision does not end all other EEO obligations imposed by the FCC rules.

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Commissioner O’Rielly Proposes to Bring Mandatory FCC EEO Recruiting Into the Modern Era by Allowing Reliance on Internet Resources

Broadcast Law Blog

In a post on the FCC’s blog , Commissioner Michael O’Rielly proposed allowing broadcasters to meet their EEO wide dissemination obligations solely through Internet sources. But, as the Internet was not seen as universally available at that point, the FCC ruled that online sources alone would not be sufficient to meet these wide dissemination requirements. The FCC could act on this proposal today.

FCC Fines: $17,000 for Unsecure AM Tower Fence (Not Owning the Tower Site is No Excuse); $25,000 for Missing Quarterly Issues Programs Lists; $22,000 for Nonfunctioning EAS and Wrong Tower Coordinates

Broadcast Law Blog

A flurry of fines against broadcasters have come out of the FCC in the last week. These fines highlight the scrutiny under which owners of broadcast stations can find themselves should an FCC Field Office inspector knock on their door. If the FCC pays a visit and finds a violation, a station is often looking at a fine even if it quickly takes corrective action. Again, the FCC said that post-inspection remedies do not excuse the initial violation in the FCC’s eyes.

Four Fines Up to $8000 for Tower Lighting Issues – A Message on the Importance to the FCC of Safety Issues

Broadcast Law Blog

There are times that the FCC, though its Daily Releases, appears to be trying to make a point. The facts of each of the cases are slightly different – but together they make clear that the FCC demands that tower lights be maintained in operating condition, and will take few excuses for the failure of those lights to remain operational during required operating hours. FCC Fees Tower Issues automatic monitoring of towers FCC tower lighting requirements

What’s Up in Washington For Broadcasters in 2014? — Part 1, FCC Issues

Broadcast Law Blog

With so many issues on the table, we’ll divide the issues into two parts – talking about FCC issues today, and issues from Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington’s alphabet soup of regulatory agencies in the near future. Each January, we publish a list of issues for the coming year, and it is not always the case that these issues make it to the top of various piles (literal or figurative) that sit in various offices at the FCC.

FCC Releases Order on Online Public Inspection File – Answering Questions about Compliance with Radio’s New Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

Last week, we wrote about the FCC’s decision to require that radio stations move their public inspection files online. Stations with 5 or more full-time employees that are located in Top 50 markets need to make the transition to the online file later this year once the FCC gets its new rules approved by the Office of Management and Budget following a Paperwork Reduction Act review. For each of these services, the FCC addressed a number of issues.

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A Broadcasters Calendar of Regulatory Obligations for 2017

Broadcast Law Blog

The dates set out on the calendar include FCC filing deadlines and dates by which the FCC requires that certain documents be added to a station’s public file. These dates just recently changed for noncommercial broadcasters as the FCC suspended its requirement that noncommercial stations file Biennial Ownership reports every other anniversary of their license renewal filing (see our post here ). AM Radio FM Radio General FCC Internet Radio Political Broadcasting Television

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FCC Proposes to Eliminate Public File Obligations – No More Letters from the Public for Broadcasters, No Cable Headend Information for Cable Systems?

Broadcast Law Blog

At its open meeting earlier this week, the FCC adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing changes to the public file rules for both broadcasters and cable systems. For commercial broadcasters, the FCC proposed to eliminate the requirement that they include in their public file copies of letters and emails to the station concerning station operations. The FCC tentatively concluded that the obligation to keep these letters and emails was no longer necessary.

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December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Ownership and EEO Reports, Retransmission Consent and Foreign Ownership Rulemaking Comments, Incentive Auction and Accessibility Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

December is one of those months when all commercial broadcasters have at least one FCC deadline, and there are also many other filing dates of which many broadcasters need to take note. Hopefully, most broadcasters have already completed this filing obligation, as FCC electronic filing systems have been known to slow as a major deadline like this comes closer. See our article here on Mid Term EEO report obligations. For details on this obligation, see our article here.

FCC Reminds Small Market TV That Political File Goes Online As of July 1, No FCC Review of the Obligations Seems Imminent

Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC on Friday issued a reminder to all TV stations that, as of July 1, they will have to upload all of their new political broadcasting documents to their online public file s. Later this year, that obligation is extended to all TV stations. For more about the requirements for the political file, see our Guide to the FCC’s Political Broadcasting Rules, here.

FCC Seeks Comments on Online Political File for TV Stations - Should Obligations Be Changed or Expanded?

Broadcast Law Blog

It has been almost a year since the FCC adopted rules for an online public inspection file for television stations. Are there other steps the FCC could take to make the database more user-friendly? The FCC also asks the public, including political candidates and their representatives, to comment on whether they found it easy to access information in the file, whether improvements could be made, and whether the ability to view the file online has been beneficial.

August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – New Fees, EAS Registration Requirement, EEO Obligations and More

Broadcast Law Blog

As we enter the last full month of summer, when many are already looking forward to the return to the more normal routines of autumn, regulatory obligations for broadcasters don’t end. Even if you are trying to squeeze in that last-minute vacation before school begins or other Fall commitments arise, there are filing deadlines this month, as well as comment deadline in an FCC proceeding dealing with broadcasters’ public inspection file obligations.

Protecting Broadcast Investors’ Social Security Numbers for the Biennial Ownership Report for Commercial Broadcasters (and, Potentially, Noncommercial Ones Too)

Broadcast Law Blog

If all goes as scheduled, at the beginning of December, commercial broadcasters will file Biennial Ownership Reports on FCC Form 323. As we wrote when the obligation to file the current version of these reports was first adopted , the FCC’s intent was to be able to track the interests of broadcast investors across all of their attributable ownership interests in various broadcast companies to assess broadcast diversity.

Understanding a Broadcaster’s Political Broadcasting Obligations Under FCC Rules – A Webinar Outlining the Requirements

Broadcast Law Blog

Last week, Bobby Baker, the head of the FCC’s Office of Political Programming and I conducted a webinar for broadcasters in 16 states on the legal issues that need to be considered in connection with the upcoming political season. With Lowest Unit Charge windows either open or to open this month in Iowa and New Hampshire, and windows opening in South Carolina and Nevada in the first week in January, stations need to be paying attention to their political obligations.

June Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO Public File Reports and Form 397, CALM Act Compliance Obligations, Incentive Auction Actions, Comments on Reg Fees and LPFM Rules, and More

Broadcast Law Blog

June brings some standard obligations for broadcasters in a number of states with anniversaries of their license renewal filing, plus the return of an obligation that we have not seen in 4 years- the obligations of radio stations in certain states to file an FCC Form 397 Mid-Term EEO Report. First, let’s look at the standard recurring obligations. TV Stations also have CALM Act obligations that go into effect on June 4.

FCC Requires that TV JSAs be Filed By November 28, and Releases Guide to Filing Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

As we wrote in early April , the FCC has determined that TV Joint Sales Agreements , by which the owner of one TV station in a market sells more than 15% of the advertising time on another station in the same market , are “ attributable interests ” under the multiple ownership rules. The FCC gave stations involved in existing JSAs two years to undo current agreements , and the decision is on appeal by the NAB and other affected broadcasters.

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TV Public Interest Obligations and Online Public Inspection File on Agenda for Next FCC Meeting

Broadcast Law Blog

Online public files , detailed reports about virtually every program aired on a television station as to its source and whether it addressed various types of perceived community interests, and other paperwork requirements that would have required most television stations to hire a new employee just to deal with the burden, were all part of mandatory television public interest reporting requirements adopted by the FCC back in 2007 (see our articles here and here on these reports on FCC Form 355).

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December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO Reports, Ownership and Ancillary Revenue Reports, Ownership Review and Incentive Auction Updates

Broadcast Law Blog

While we are into the holiday season, that does not stop the routine regulatory obligations for broadcasters. December 1 brings a host of routine obligations for stations in many states. Of course, for TV stations and radio stations that have already converted to the online public file, that will mean uploading those reports to the FCC-hosted public file. Even stations that did not receive any such revenue must report that fact by December 1 to the FCC.

July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – New Captioning Obligations, Online Political File for Small TV Stations, Issues Programs List and Children’s Television Reports, and More

Broadcast Law Blog

July brings a number of new regulatory dates for broadcasters – including the effective dates of two new compliance obligations for small market TV stations, as well as numerous routine regulatory filing dates. Full power TV and Class A TV stations by January 10 also need to have filed with the FCC their FCC Form 398 Children’s Television Reports , addressing the educational and informational programming directed to children that they broadcast.

Comments on FCC Proposal to Abolish Broadcast Main Studio Rule Due July 3

Broadcast Law Blog

In today’s Federal Register, the FCC has given notice of its proposal to abolish the main studio rule. We wrote about the FCC’s proposal and the questions being asked in this proceeding here and here. So, if you are interested in expressing your views on this significant deregulatory move by the FCC, file your comments by July 3. AM Radio FCC Fines FM Radio Public Interest Obligations/Localism Television main studio rules main studio staffing requirements

October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Obligations, Noncommercial Biennial Ownership Reports, and Incentive Auction Comment Deadlines

Broadcast Law Blog

All broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial, have an obligation to complete their Quarterly Issues Programs lists and place them into their public inspection filed by October 10. For TV stations, the 10 th also brings the obligation to submit Quarterly Children’s Television Reports on Form 398 to the FCC (as the 10 th falls on a Federal holiday, you may be able to file on the 11 th , but consult your legal advisor for details on that deadline).

Changes in FCC Rules on Third-Party Fundraising By Noncommercial Stations Effective Now – Except for the New Disclosure and Paperwork Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

At its April meeting, the FCC voted to allow noncommercial stations not affiliated with NPR or CPB to raise funds for third-party nonprofit organizations , even where such fundraising appeals interrupted normal programming, as long as the licensee did not devote more than 1% of its yearly airtime to such appeals.

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FCC Approves Repeal of Main Studio Rules and Starts Proceeding to Examine Broadcast Public Notices and Filing of TV Ancillary and Supplementary Revenue Reports

Broadcast Law Blog

At the FCC meeting yesterday, the FCC repealed, on a 3 to 2 vote, the main studio and studio staffing requirements for TV and radio broadcasters. The FCC, as part of its Media Modernization Initiative, also started a proceeding to abolish the requirement that TV stations with no ancillary and supplementary revenue (revenue from the digital transmission of non-broadcast services) file an FCC report on that revenue.

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FCC Extends for 18 Months the Requirement for TV Stations to Convert Visual Emergency Information to Audio on SAP Channel

Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC released an order last week giving TV stations an additional 18 months to comply with a requirement that emergency information conveyed to the TV audience during non-news programming in a visual or graphical manner (e.g. We wrote about the FCC’s request for comments on the extension here. The waiver extension is subject to the condition that NAB and the other petitioners provide a status report to the FCC on efforts to develop a technical solution by November 22, 2017.

Summaries of the Legal Issues Facing Radio and TV Broadcasters – Staying on Top of Your Regulatory Obligations

Broadcast Law Blog

While none of these articles or presentations can be comprehensive, these slides and the TV NewsCheck update, at least give you a quick overview of the many issues that broadcasters should be watching to stay on top of their legal obligations. Each quarter, my partner David O’Connor and I update a list of the legal and regulatory issues facing TV broadcasters. That list of issues is published by TVNewsCheck and is available on their website, here.

Details of FCC Regulatory Fee Filing Obligations - Get Ready for August 31 Deadline

Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC now has sent notices to broadcast stations about their obligation to pay regulatory fees by August 31. Last week, it issued three public notices about the fees - one simply announcing that the fees are due by that date , one setting out the procedures for filing the regulatory fees , and a third reminding all filers that they need to pay using the FCC's on-line Fee Filer system.

Details of FCC Regulatory Fee Filing Obligations - Get Ready for August 31 Deadline

Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC now has sent notices to broadcast stations about their obligation to pay regulatory fees by August 31. Last week, it issued three public notices about the fees - one simply announcing that the fees are due by that date , one setting out the procedures for filing the regulatory fees , and a third reminding all filers that they need to pay using the FCC's on-line Fee Filer system.

Formal Proceedings to Begin to Revise Rules for Broadcasters’ On-Air Contests and Expand the Online Public File Obligations to Radio, Cable and Satellite

Broadcast Law Blog

Since our note Friday about November regulatory dates for broadcasters , it’s become clear that the FCC will be acting on two more matters of interest to broadcasters – particularly radio broadcasters though each have some implications for TV as well. The FCC will likely take comments for at least a few months from the time that the proposal that is adopted is published in the Federal Register.

FCC Officially Starts Proceedings to Abolish Main Studio Rule and Review All Other Broadcast Rules

Broadcast Law Blog

As expected, at its monthly open meeting yesterday, the FCC started two proceedings of particular importance to broadcasters. The proposal to review all media rules – referred to as the Modernization of Media Regulation – will look at all media-related FCC rules with the idea of eliminating or modifying those that no longer make sense in the modern media environment. These two proceedings again demonstrate that Chairman Pai is serious about his deregulatory agenda for the FCC.

FCC Adopts New Obligations to Caption Online Video Clips of TV Programs

Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC on Friday voted to extend its rule about captioning TV video repurposed to the Internet so as to cover not only full television programs, but also clips of those programs. While the full text of the FCC’s decision has not yet been released, from the discussion at the FCC meeting and from its Public Notice about the rules, the outlines of the newly imposed obligations seem fairly clear.

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FCC Issues Reminder on Form 397 EEO Mid-Term Reports – Filing Obligations Begin on June 1 for Radio Stations in DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia

Broadcast Law Blog

EEO Mid-Term Reports on FCC Form 397 must be filed at the mid-point of the renewal cycle of radio stations if they are part of a station employment unit with more than 10 full-time employees , or 5 or more full-time employees for TV. The FCC yesterday issued a reminder to stations about this obligation. We wrote about the basics of the FCC’s EEO policies for broadcasters here.

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