Update: FCC Adopted Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Eliminate the Requirement that Licensees Maintain Paper Copy of the Rules

Broadcast Law Blog

At its meeting yesterday, as promised, the FCC adopted a notice of proposed rulemaking to eliminate the rule that certain classes of FCC licensees maintain a paper copy of the FCC rules. Under current rules, licensees of LPTV, TV and FM translator, and TV and FM booster stations (but not full-power stations) are required to maintain paper copies of FCC rules applicable to those services.

$700,000 to Be Paid By Media General to End Inquiry on its Attempts to Enforce a JSA – What are the Limits on the Enforceability of a Contractual Restriction on an FCC Licensee’s Sale of its Station?

Broadcast Law Blog

As we wrote here when the case first arose , the FCC wrote to the court, contending that the injunction would not only violate the conditions placed on the sale by the FCC (that the Schurz station be sold before the Gray deal could close) but, more importantly for the general broadcast community, that the restrictions on the sale of the station, and its participation in the incentive auction, were improper restrictions on the control rights of the licensee.

Trending Sources

BSkyB Continues as Ofcom Licensee

Media Law Prof Blog

From the Hollywood Reporter: NewsCorp will continue to hold a broadcast license, Ofcom has ruled. NewsCorp has issued a statement indicating it is "pleased" by the decision. However, the agency found James Murdoch's behavior as a company director "difficult to

FCC Fines Parties to an LMA $8000 Where Programmer Paid Too Many of Licensee’s Expenses

Broadcast Law Blog

In a consent decree released earlier this week , the FCC fined the parties to a LMA for an FM radio station in Colorado $8000 because the FCC believed that the programmer paid too many of the licensee’s expenses directly. According to the decision, the programmer paid certain debts of the licensee directly, including the licensee’s obligations on its tower lease, and the cost of its telephone line to the main studio.

FCC to Eliminate Need for Social Security Numbers from Board Members of Noncommercial Licensees for Biennial Ownership Report

Broadcast Law Blog

The third item, also related to noncommercial licensees, is the resolution of the long-simmering dispute about whether or not to require that those individuals with attributable interests in noncommercial broadcast stations – officers and board members – to provide their Social Security Numbers or other personal information to the FCC to obtain an FCC Registration Number – an FRN. So if an individual sits on the board of multiple broadcast licensees (e.g.

The Confusing State of AM Radio Revitalization Efforts – No FM Translator Window for AM Licensees?

Broadcast Law Blog

The second unanswered concern is why, if it is necessary to open the translator window, it should only be opened for one group… [I]f we are to assure that spectrum availability is an open opportunity, then the government shouldn’t favor one class of licensees with an exclusive spectrum opportunity unavailable to others just because the company owns a license in the AM band.

When Is An FCC Fine Too Big? - Analyze Licensee Gross Income to Determine Hardship (For Noncommercial Licensees Too)

Broadcast Law Blog

Thus, the FCC has adopted a test where it will look at the gross revenues of the licensee of the station to see if the licensee can pay the fine. And these cases make clear that it is the entire gross revenue of the licensee - not just the revenue of radio operations that is considered in this analysis. One case very clearly demonstrates that the FCC is looking at a licensee's full revenue - not just that revenue available to the broadcast station.

FCC Says No to Court’s Enforcement of Contractual Rights that Limit Broadcast Licensee’s Control Rights – What Does this Mean for Broadcast Contracts? 

Broadcast Law Blog

By trying to get a court to enforce a contract signed with a broadcaster, is the suing party infringing on a licensee’s control over its broadcast station license? The FCC’s letter states that it believes that the courts cannot order the relief that Media General seeks without infringing on the licensee’s rights to control the station. How far can a court go in ordering broadcasters to comply with the terms of a contract?

$11,000 Fine for Broadcast Station Tower Light Outage - FCC Emphasizes the Responsibility of Licensee To Maintain Lights if Tower Owner Does Not

Broadcast Law Blog

But in a decision last week , the FCC made clear that, even if the licensee of a broadcast station is not the tower owner, it still has the responsibility for dealing with tower lights that are out, even if the tower owner does not. The failure of the licensee to maintain the tower lights, and other related issues, resulted in an $11,000 fine issued by the FCC. Thus, no matter who owned the tower, the licensee was still subject to the fine for the lights not being operational.

FCC To Consider Allowing Alien Ownership of More Than 25% of Broadcast Licensees - Comments Due April 15

Broadcast Law Blog

Under Section 310(b)(4) of the Communications Act , foreign ownership of a broadcast licensee is limited to 20% of the company's stock , or no more than 25% of a parent company of the licensee. The limits on the ownership of broadcast stations by those who are not US citizens is being re-examined by the FCC according to a recent Public Notice.

$1250 FCC Fine for Not Having Licensee's Articles of Incorporation in Station's Public File

Broadcast Law Blog

In a decision by the FCC's Enforcement Bureau, the Commission issued a $1250 fine to a station that did not have its licensee's Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws in its public file when a listener came to check the file. Licensees are also supposed to have in their public file other documents reflecting any future ownership rights in the station (options, pledges, warrants, etc) and any documents that significantly restrict the actions of the licensee (e.g.

Why music publishers (and their licensees) should care about the Google Books Settlement

Music Technology Policy

I've been trying to beat the drum on the importance of the Google Books settlement for a while (see chez Reg "Is Google's Culture Grab Unstoppable?"). There are quite a few people objecting to the settlement, but no music publishers seem to understand that they are involved. The common reaction is that there's no way that music, such as sheet music, could be involved because the publishers never gave a license. Now come on. This is GOOGLE we are talking about here.

Buyers of Stock of FCC Licensee are not Relieved from Fines for FCC Violations of Former Owners

Broadcast Law Blog

In the case decided last week, the Commission concluded that the licensee of a broadcast station was liable for fines for violations of the public inspection file rules - even though the violations occurred prior to a "long-form" FCC Form 315 application for transfer of control of the station.

MTV Sued for $30 Million for Allegedly Not Registering Logos in Latin America

THR, Esq. Entertainment & Media Law Blog

MTV's licensees say they spent millions on branded clothing and luggage only to have the products seized by local authorities. read more. The Business THR, Esq. Television MTV Business

Hey Alexa, Where’s My Money? Address Unknown Update Courtesy of Paperchain

Music Technology Policy

Licensee. We get an update this week on the total “address unknown” mass NOIs filed with the Copyright Office for the royalty-free windfall loophole. This time we have to thank our our friends at Paperchain in Sydney for doing the work of decompressing the massive numbers of unsearchable compressed files posted on the Copyright Office website. As you can see, there’s been an increase of approximately 70% since January 2017. (For background, see my article.).

Why Can’t Songwriters Audit? A Brief Guide to Statutory Audits Under the U.S. Copyright Act

Music Technology Policy

The main point that was added in these modifications was the right of songwriters and publishers to conduct an audit of the licensee, usually a record company (more properly, audits are called “royalty compliance examinations”). BLANCHE.

Compulsory License Rules For Music Services Finding Songwriters

Music Technology Policy

Once a phonorecord of a work has been distributed to the public in the United States under authority of the copyright owner, anyone can obtain a compulsory license to make and distribute reproductions of that song if the compulsory licensee (like a Spotify, for example) otherwise complies with the very straightforward statutory requirements to enjoy this tremendously valuable compulsory license. And there are great benefits and reductions in transaction costs to the licensee.

FCC Issues $15,000 Fines For Unauthorized Transfer of Control and Main Studio Staffing Violations for LMA Done Wrong

Broadcast Law Blog

$15,000 per station was the cost of a broadcast licensee’s failure to adequately supervise two stations of which he was the licensee, but which were operated pursuant to time brokerage agreements or LMAs. Like many stations in these tough economic times, this licensee decided to allow a third party to provide the bulk of the programming and retain the bulk of the sales revenues, in exchange for a payment.

The Importance of Controlling Rights Data

Music Technology Policy

Make sure you have a written data confidentiality agreement that allows you to terminate any rights in the case of an assignment, sale or other transfer of the licensee’s company or assets. What’s the point of having good metadata and rights information for licensing? It should be to actually know who owns a song and who owns recordings of the song so you can get permission and pay for usage or block it.

FCC To Hold Workshop on VHF/UHF Narrowbanding

Media Law Prof Blog

The FCC will hold a workshop on VHF/UHF narrowbanding on January 26 in DC for licensees interesting in moving to narrowband radio transmissions. More here

FCC 3

FCC Gives No Special Consideration to Noncommercial Broadcasters Who Violate the Rules - Colleges Pay Attention to Your Radio Station!

Broadcast Law Blog

Instead, noncommercial station licensees, like the college that was involved in this case, have to justify a reduction in the amount of a fine based on financial hardship by providing a financial statement for the licensee itself - not just a showing of the budget for the radio station.

Localism Without Government Regulation

Broadcast Law Blog

Tags: FCC licensee responsibility FCC service obligations On Line Media Public Interest Obligations/Localism Website Issues broadcast regulation broadcaster programming obligations broadcaster service to community broadcasters service to public new media competition

Why Songwriters Can’t Audit Under the Statutory Mechanical Royalty License, or Shall We Rely on the Kindness of Strangers?

Music Technology Policy

Each Monthly Statement of Account shall include the handwritten signature of the compulsory licensee. If that compulsory licensee is a corporation, the signature shall be that of a duly authorized officer of the corporation [swearing to] the following statement: I certify that I have examined this Monthly Statement of Account and that all statements of fact contained herein are true, complete, and correct to the best of my knowledge, information, and belief, and are made in good faith.

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

Broadcast Law Blog

Three of the fines were for $8000, and one for $6000, and three were against broadcasters and one was against a non-broadcast licensee. In another of the cases , a licensee had three towers in a row in close proximity, and asked the FAA for permission to extinguish the lights on the middle tower, while maintaining those lights on the two end towers. There are times that the FCC, though its Daily Releases, appears to be trying to make a point.

I’m Shocked, Shocked: Payola on Spotify?

Music Technology Policy

The Federal Communications Commission established the payola rules for FCC licensees (meaning broadcasters) to require disclosure of payments and it is this nondisclosure that is what makes it illegal. Just because Spotify isn’t an FCC licensee doesn’t mean that there’s not commercial bribery going on. How can you close me up? On what grounds? RENAULT. I am shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here! CROUPIER. Your winnings, sir. RENAULT.

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

The FCC refused to lower the fine, despite the licensee’s arguments that the quarterly issues programs lists were in fact at the station but there was “confusion” as to where they were at the time of the inspection, and its argument that it should not be responsible for the fencing issue as it did not itself own the real estate or the towers. A flurry of fines against broadcasters have come out of the FCC in the last week.

Underreporting and No Accountability: Another Reason Streaming Royalties are So Small

Music Technology Policy

While the Copyright Office is currently proposing regulations applicable to all compulsory licensees, most of the problems with the license that we have experienced in the marketplace relate solely to digital retailers. Section 115’s remedies for non-payment or non-compliance by a compulsory licensee are limited to sending a termination notice—assuming there was even a proper statutory license in the first place that is capable of termination.

The Declining Utility of the ASCAP and BMI Consent Decrees: Music Licensing Study

Music Technology Policy

The consent decrees undermine songwriters in three important ways: confusion surrounding withdrawal and direct licensing; use of consent decrees as a club for well-heeled licensees against songwriters in an inefficient manner that prevents the formation of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms; and creates inefficiencies in licensing that are burdensome to both licensees and songwriters. The U.S.

TV Incentive Auction Moves Forward – FCC Estimates the Value of TV Stations and Clarifies the Interference Standard for Stations Who Remain After the Auction

Broadcast Law Blog

But, to most television operators, the more interesting of the two actions is the report issued by the FCC suggesting the values that licensees in the various TV markets might get if they surrender their TV licenses in the incentive auction. The report also contains an IRS letter suggesting the tax treatment that would be accorded licensees for incentive auction payments in various scenarios (e.g.

What Principles Apply to Agents? Who Audits the Auditors?

Music Technology Policy

It now appears both due to the company’s rather cloudy role in the RightsFlow transaction and this current story in Digital Music News that HFA’s role is shifting to representing the licensee rather than the licensor. Or perhaps both the licensee and the licensor. The unique value of using a collective is the ability to audit licensees (like Google) on behalf of a number of publishers, perhaps thousands of publishers and tens of thousands of songs.

Eternal Vigilance: Why copyright owners should protect their metadata in digital retailer agreements

Music Technology Policy

But most importantly for our purposes, the database owner may require that the licensee agree to contract provisions such as an acknowledgement by the licensee of the copyright owner’s database interest as well as a confidentiality provision and other restrictions on the use, reproduction, distribution or sublicense of the database. Music publishers and record companies are often asked to deliver databases of information about their catalogs to online retailers.

FCC Negotiates $100,000 Settlement and Cancellation of Some Licenses with Broadcaster Who Filed Applications Under False Names and Refused to Cooperate with FCC Investigations

Broadcast Law Blog

But instead, it seems to be a fairly light one, especially as misrepresentations to the FCC are usually seen as a violation of FCC rules that can be fatal to a licensee, particularly when compounded by the failure to even respond to FCC requests for information.

Buyers of Broadcast Stations Through Stock Transfer Beware – Liability for Fines of Prior Owner Can Still be Imposed After the Transfer

Broadcast Law Blog

In a recent decision , the FCC made clear that when there is a transfer of control of a station through the sale of the stock of the licensee company, the new owners are not absolved of any FCC violations that may have taken place when the old owners controlled the company. Note however, as we wrote here , if a compliance issue was discovered by the FCC before the sale, it is possible that the FCC could go after the old licensee for a fine, even after a sale has been completed).

Guest Post: ASCAP and the Great Pandora Battle Where Artists and Musicians Pay the Price, by Monica Conlon

Music Technology Policy

They do not have the right to say “no” to any potential licensee. If, after they negotiate with any licensee — in this case, Pandora — and the licensee does not like the rates proposed by ASCAP or BMI, the licensee or the PRO has the right to go to federal court in New York to set the rate. [Editor Charlie sez: This is a guest post by Monica Conlon. Follow her @momusing. Used by permission, copyright held by the author, any reproductions require the author''s consent.

FCC Fines Station $7000 for Violation of Main Studio Rule – Good Reminder on Broadcast Main Studio Requirements

Broadcast Law Blog

The facts of the case were set out in a Notice of Apparent Liability issued back in February, where the licensee had claimed that its studio was in a location that was shared with another broadcaster who had agreed to lease it space. The supposed landlord, however, said that the lease agreement had expired and the licensee had no employees or equipment at the location of the studio. This licensee’s fine is a good reminder to all other broadcasters to observe these requirements. .

Getting the Government Out of Songwriting: Voluntary Licenses Should Replace Consent Decrees or Compulsory Licenses

Music Technology Policy

The licensee is often a large commercial entity such as a broadcaster network or a media company like Google. Rates are privately negotiated by the PROs and licensees in the first instance. But if a PRO cannot make a deal with a well-funded licensee, that licensee (such as Pandora, most recently) can go to a “rate court”, a U.S. [Editor Charlie sez, this article originally appeared in the Huffington Post.].

Can Songwriters Demand Answers from Streamers CPAs?

Music Technology Policy

i) Each Annual Statement of Account shall include the handwritten signature of the compulsory licensee.

Broadcast Creditors Beware – $11,000 Fine Imposed for FCC Reporting Shortcomings in an AM Foreclosure Action

Broadcast Law Blog

The fine was imposed both for an unauthorized transfer of control of the licensee of the station, and because of the failure of the receiver appointed by the Court to keep the FCC fully appraised of the status of the control of the licensee company while FCC approval for the receiver’s control of the station was still pending before the FCC. So for any creditor of a broadcast licensee, this case makes clear that you need to proceed with caution!

Ninth Circuit Rules on License Conditions versus Contract Covenants in Dispute over World of Warcraft Bots - MDY v. Blizzard, Part I

New Media and Technology Law

Autodesk (which we blogged about previously ), in which the court defined the circumstances under which a purchaser of software is a licensee, not an owner of a copy, for purposes of the copyright first sale doctrine. The appeals court agreed with MDY and Donnelly, holding that “a potential for infringement exists only where the licensee’s action (1) exceeds the license’s scope (2) in a manner that implicates one of the licensor’s exclusive statutory rights.&#

$16,000 Fine For Recording Telephone Conversation for Broadcast Without Prior Permission - No Excuse Because Call Made By Independent Contractor, By Subsequent Approval, or By the First Amendment

Broadcast Law Blog

In one case, a licensee was fined $16,000 for phoning a woman, pretending to be a hospital calling with news that her husband had been in a motorcycle accident and had died, The FCC refused to reduce or eliminate the fine because the call was made by an independent contractor , as the Commission found that the contractor had been hired to provide recorded "bits" for the station, and was thus not acting outside of any limits set by the licensee.