Archive for the ‘FCC’ Category

    $17,500 Settlement by TV Broadcaster for Not Identifying Educational and Informational Children’s Programming – Reminder that the FCC is Still in…

    The FCC announced a Consent Decree with a New Jersey TV station where the licensee agreed to make a $17,500 payment to the US Treasury for failing to identify “core” educational and informational programming directed to children with the required “E/I” symbol on the programming itself. This programming was, according to the consent decree, run on the station’s multicast streams – stations having an obligation to run at least 3 hours of educational and informational programming on each of its program streams. The settlement payment also covered Commission findings that the station had not adequately and accurately reported these omissions in both its Quarterly Children’s Television Reports (Form 398) and in its license renewal application. The Commission also noted that the station had not adequately informed publishers of program guides about these educational and informational programs.

    FCC To Hold Hearing to Determine Whether to Deny License Renewal of Radio Station that was Silent for Most of its License Term

    The FCC yesterday took what some may suggest is an unprecedented action to potentially deny the license renewal of an FM broadcast station that was silent for all but one day each year during its license renewal term. According to the Hearing Designation Order , the station operated one day each year to avoid forfeiting its license pursuant to Section 312(g) of the Communications Act (a provision we have written about here and here , which provides for the automatic cancellation of the license of a broadcast station that has been silent for more than one year). The order released yesterday points to a 20 year-old case as warning broadcasters that, if they do not operate for substantial portions of a license renewal term, they are in danger of losing their license.

    FM Translators for AM Stations – Now that the Filing Window is Done, What’s Next?

    The window for filing applications for new FM translators for Class C and D AM stations has now closed. According to a statement from FCC Chairman Pai , over 1000 AM stations took advantage of the filing window.  What’s next? The FCC will take these applications and determine which of them are mutually exclusive with some other application filed during the window that ended yesterday.

    First Post-Incentive Auction Window Opens for Modifications By Repacked TV Stations that Can’t Build on Their Assigned Channel

    Earlier this week, the FCC announced the first of its post-auction filing windows for TV stations that are forced to abandon their current channels as a result of the repacking of the TV band after the broadcast incentive auction. As a result of the shrinking of the TV band, many TV stations were required to change channels so that all stations could fit into the smaller TV band.

    SESAC Royalties for Commercial Radio Slashed By More Than Half – Both SESAC and RMLC Claim Victory in Arbitration

    It was announced this week that SESAC’s royalties for radio for the period starting at the beginning of 2016 through the end of 2018 have been slashed – being reduced to less than half what they were in 2015.  This decision came out of an arbitration process that resulted from the settlement of an antitrust lawsuit that the Radio Music License Committee (RMLC) brought against SESAC (see our article here for a summary of the settlement).  Yet, despite the significant reduction in the royalties for radio operators, both sides declared victory (see RMLC press release here and press reports on SESAC’s reaction here ).  Can both be right?  While the decision of the arbitrators is not public so we can’t know for sure the reasoning behind the result, it might be that there is something to each of these claims. For radio, the victory is clear.  For commercial radio broadcasters, the royalties were significantly decreased, retroactive back to the beginning of 2016 year for stations that had elected to have RMLC represent them in this lawsuit.  Some stations had been enticed by an offer made by SESAC at the beginning of 2016 offering stations a new SESAC license at rates 5% less than they were in 2015 (see our article here ).  Those stations may not qualify for the much greater royalty reduction available to the majority of commercial stations that opted into RMLC representation and are covered by the arbitration result.  The new SESAC royalties will also cover the use of SESAC music on broadcaster’s streaming platforms and HD broadcasts, uses for which broadcasters had previously had to pay SESAC separately.  Of course, stations still need to pay public performance royalties for musical compositions to ASCAP, BMI and, in many cases, GMR and public performance royalties for sound recordings, when streaming recorded music, to SoundExchange. SESAC’s claim of victory is somewhat more nuanced – but essentially it boils down to “it could have been significantly worse.”  SESAC’s claim of victory is based on its argument that the arbitrators, in reaching their decision, did not base the royalties on a strict application of the formula urged by RMLC – suggesting that SESAC should be paid on the basis of the recent ASCAP agreement with RMLC (see our article here ).  RMLC had claimed that SESAC should get a royalty based on a pro rata percentage of the fees payable to ASCAP.  The SESAC payment would, under the RMLC proposal, have been a percentage of the ASCAP royalty equal to the percentage of songs SESAC represents as compared to the much larger number of songs represented by ASCAP.  Because the arbitrators did not apply this proportional analysis, SESAC suggests that the rate arrived at for their songs represents either a recognition that the ASCAP rate is too low (held down by the antitrust consent decree to which it is subject) or that the SESAC music is more valuable – either being something that GMR and other potentially emerging performing rights organizations might find instructive (see our articles on GMR here and here discussing the pending lawsuit where RMLC is attempting to impose a similar arbitration process on GMR’s royalty-setting). Regardless of the theory, commercial radio broadcasters should be happy about the reduction in their royalties.  Other music users, not part of antitrust settlements with SESAC (TV also has a similar antitrust settlement with SESAC), may also find this decision to be instructive in negotiating their music licenses with the company.  Of course, these SESAC rates last only through the end of next year, so the process may begin again soon for the radio industry

    Ashly digiMIX24 Gets Control App and Firmware Update

    AutoMix and Crossfade modes part of the new firmware

    August Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO, Translators, Media Regulation Modernization, EAS, Incentive Auction and More

    It’s almost August, and despite it being vacation time for many, there are still regulatory dates that must be addressed by the broadcast industry. Routine filing dates this coming month include the need for EEO Public Inspection File Reports to be included in station’s public inspection files (either the online files for all TV stations and those radio stations that have already converted, or in the paper files for those radio groups that have not yet made the switch) for stations that are part of employment units with five or more full-time employees in California , Illinois , North Carolina , South Carolina , and Wisconsin. Links to these reports must also be included on the home page of any stations in such employment units, whether or not the station’s complete public file is available online.

    More Details on FCC’s Upcoming Nationwide EAS Test Including August 28 Deadline to Update Information in ERTS Reporting System

    We wrote earlier this week about the upcoming EAS Nationwide Test and the need for broadcasters to make sure that their EAS equipment is operating in compliance with all FCC rules. The FCC itself has now released its own Public Notice detailing the many things that broadcasters need to check at their facilities before the upcoming test, including the need to update their information in the ERTS EAS reporting system by August 28. The FCC also issued a new EAS Handbook detailing broadcaster’s EAS obligations. The Public Notice notes that the EAS test will focus on the IPAWS internet-based system through which the common alerting protocol (“CAPS”) alert is sent – a system that was mandated a few years ago as an additional way for alerts to be conveyed to stations to supplement the traditional “daisy-chain” of alerts being passed from one broadcast station to another (see our articles here , here and here )

    CLASSICS Act Introduced to Provide Pre-1972 Sound Recording Public Performance Clarity – What Issues Does It Leave Unresolved?

    The CLASSICS (Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society) Act was introduced in Congress last week to try to clear up some of the ongoing disputes over the public performance rights of pre-1972 sound recordings. Through litigation, certain copyright holders (including, most notably, Flo and Eddie of the 1960’s band The Turtles) have been seeking compensation from digital and analog music services for the public performance of pre-1972 sound recordings. These sound recordings are not covered by Federal law

    Proposed $66,000 Fine Reminds Broadcasters to Prepare for September Nationwide EAS Test

    FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) has notified the FCC that it will be conducting the next nationwide test of the EAS system on September 27, 2017 (with a back-up date of October 4, 2017 – in the event potential real emergencies make the earlier date one that could cause confusion). The FCC has updated its reporting system for stations to provide information about the success of the test (recently releasing these instructions to remind stations to create user names in the system), and should be better able to track station’s participation in the test. Thus, to make sure that you can report a successful test, this is a good time for stations to insure that they are monitoring the correct EAS sources as required by their state EAS plan, that they have their online EAS CAPS alert systems functional, and that they are properly receiving, conducting and logging their weekly and monthly tests. The consequences of not having a properly functioning EAS system were highlighted by a proposed fine announced last week – suggesting a $66,000 fine against an Alaskan noncommercial FM station for a variety of violations. Emphasized in the FCC’s order were the EAS failures of the station, including its failure to have an EAS Handbook at the control point for the station, the failure to monitor the correct EAS sources and the transmission of alerts meant to be sent by another station in a different EAS operational area

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