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Last month we reported on an FCC order implementing several rule changes dictated by Congress in the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014. Those changes include the ban on joint negotiation for retransmission consent agreements by any two same-market TV stations not under common control (as that term is defined by the FCC rules). The Commission’s order has now been published in the Federal Register, so we can tell you when the revised rules will take effect. The magic date: April 2, 2015. Mark your calendars.
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New bills would force the FCC to examine, on an expedited basis, possible Wi-Fi and other unlicensed use of 5.9 GHz band. As a general rule, the FCC is in the driver’s seat when it comes to spectrum management in the U.S. But that doesn’t mean that Congress can’t, and won’t, occasionally engage in some aggressive backseat driving. And so it is that several members of Congress have reintroduced legislation – S.424 in the Senate, H.R.821 in the House – strongly suggesting the direction the FCC should take with respect to the 5.9 GHz band (i.e., 5860-5925 MHz). The bills would...
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TVMLC settlement with SESAC gets the thumbs up from judge; important forms to be sent to participating stations to get the refund process rolling If you’re a full-power TV operator in the U.S. (or its territories) and you obtained a performance license from SESAC any time after January 1, 2008, make sure you keep an eye out for a form you’re likely to receive from the Television Music License Committee (TVMLC) or its attorneys entitled “Settlement Antitrust Class Action Settlement Refund Payments.” Fill it out, return it, pass GO, collect much more than $200 and roll again. (Note: Stations own or...
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We recently reported on the FCC’s proposal to revise its broadcast ownership reporting requirements to permit all attributable interest holders to utilize a “Restricted Use FCC Registration Number” (RUFRN) in connection with both commercial and noncommercial broadcast ownership reports (FCC Forms 323 and 323-E, respectively). The RUFRN would largely replace the Special Use FRN which the Commission invented in 2009-2010 when its initial plan – which would have required all individuals listed in commercial ownership reports to identify themselves with Social Security Number-based FRNs – ran into some rough sledding. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has now been published in...
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Last week we reported on a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration relative to the operation of “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” – what the rest of us out here in the Real World would refer to as “drones”. The NPRM has now made it into the Federal Register, so we know that comments in response to the NPRM are due by April 24, 2015.
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After nearly a decade, the FAA advises that it is no longer pursuing a proposal that would have inserted it deeply into the regulation of FM stations. For years, the Federal Aviation Administration has toyed with the idea of regulating use of some portions of the spectrum – including particularly the FM band (approximately 88 MHz–108 MHz) – even though conventional wisdom says that such matters are statutorily (not to mention logically) controlled by the Federal Communications Commission. The FAA backed down from these aspirations to some degree in 2010, but in doing so it sniffed, in effect, that we all...
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VerStandig lawsuit tossed on technicalities. Will geofencing really provide webcasting broadcasters a shield that they can deploy against royalty claims? While that question was raised in a lawsuit last spring, it won’t be getting answered soon: the case has been dismissed … for the time being, at least. Thanks to considerations that many may view as “technicalities”, U.S. District Judge Michael F. Urbanski tossed the suit filed last April by Verstandig Broadcasting. But he did so “without prejudice”, meaning that the core question remains unanswered and may still be raised, and resolved, in a...
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Spoofing tactic appears to backfire on robocaller. As a public service, we offer a couple of helpful CommLawBlog tips to folks who feel like violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) by making unsolicited prerecorded advertising calls: First and foremost, DON’T violate the TCPA; If you insist on ignoring Tip No. 1, at least: Don’t call numbers on the National Do No Call Registry; Don’t provide an “opt-out” number that doesn’t work; Don’t “spoof” somebody else’s number so that their number, not yours, shows up in...
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Commission proposes technical adjustments to help remote pickup operations enter the digital age. It looks like broadcasters’ Remote Pickup (RPU) operations may finally be getting pushed into the digital 21st Century. In response to separate petitions filed by the Society of Broadcast Engineers (SBE) and the Engineers for the Integrity of Broadcast Auxiliary Services Spectrum (EIBASS), the Commission has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order (NPRM/O) resolving a couple of RPU-related questions and proposing a number of changes to the RPU rules. An RPU, of course, is one type of Broadcast Auxiliary Station. RPUs are used to...
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At Congress’s direction, FCC narrows, considerably, the ability of same-market stations to negotiate retransmission consent deals jointly. Back in November (as we reported), Congress passed the STELA Reauthorization Act of 2014 (a/k/a STELAR). Among other things STELAR required the Commission to modify certain rules to implement a number of Congressionally-dictated changes. STELAR also required that those modifications take effect pronto – some within 90 days, others within nine months of STELAR’s enactment. Obviously mindful of both the chores Congress assigned it and the limited time frame provided by Congress to get those chores done, the Commission has taken the first...
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Attention LPTV, Class A TV and TV Translator CP and license applicants: Form 2100 is your ONLY option as of February 23. Last September we introduced our readers to the new “Licensing and Management System” (LMS) that the Commission plans to use as a one-stop-shop for all broadcast forms. Once LMS is fully operational, our old friend the Consolidated Database System (CDBS) will be put out to pasture. (Before you think about cheering for the demise of CDBS, you might want to take Form 2100 out for a test spin - CDBS may be a devil, but it's the devil we...
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Prudent network management or Wi-Fi jamming? The question has been taken off the table … for now. Last year we reported on a couple of interactions between the FCC and the well-known hotelier, the Marriott Corporation. The news started inauspiciously for Marriott when the Commission wrapped up an investigation (started in 2013) by spanking Marriott with a $600,000 civil penalty. The FCC determined that Marriott had used “containment capability” to prevent guests at the Gaylord Opryland (run by Marriott) from by-passing the hotel’s Wi-Fi system in favor of their own DIY hotspots. Presumably prodded by that...
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