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FCC gives co-primary status to “Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft” uplinks. The FCC has given in-flight Internet an upgrade. Late in 2012, the FCC authorized use of earth stations installed on aircraft to communicate with Fixed-Satellite Service (FSS) spacecraft in geostationary orbits. Called “Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft” (ESAA), the service delivers wholesale Internet service to the airplane, where it gets parceled out to individual passengers via Wi-Fi. Uplinks from the aircraft use the 14.0-14.5 GHz band, shared with (among others) the small VSAT terminals we often see on the roofs of gas stations and chain hotels....
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There’s nothing like a Supreme Court argument to get the Main Stream Media’s attention. With tomorrow’s argument in the Aereo case nearly here, it seems that all the MSM (well, at least the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, CNET, PBS, among many others) are suddenly attuned to the story that we here at CommLawBlog have been all over for more than two years. (For a collection of our Aereo pieces, click here.) As we reported last week, our Aereo beat bloggers Kevin Goldberg and Harry Cole are planning to emerge from the CommLawBlog bunker for a quick...
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The FAA’s anti-drone posturing: procedurally, practically and constitutionally unsound They say that tragedy plus time equals comedy. Sometimes that may be true. But when the tragedy is severe enough, tragedy plus time equals tragedy – leading, at best, to reflection. Reflection on a recent tragedy has led to this post. In March, a KOMO-TV News helicopter crashed in Seattle, killing two people. This kind of tragedy can be avoided in the future, at least in part through the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) – more commonly referred to as “drones”. But I fear that the current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) stance on the use...
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Peavey Electronics ponies up $225,000 for digital device violations. Are there no music lovers at the FCC? Perhaps not in the Enforcement Bureau, which over the last few years has singled out audio and music companies for large fines relating to the FCC’s digital device rules. Those rules require manufacturers of equipment having digital circuitry – that’s pretty much everything, these days – to test stray radio-frequency emissions for compliance with FCC limits. The manufacturer (or importer) must also place specified warnings in the instruction manual and, for consumer equipment, apply certain labels and provide additional paperwork. The last...
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Comments have been invited on an NAB/SBE proposal aimed at (slightly) improving the audio quality on the TIS without interfering with AM stations. Last July we blogged about changes the Commission had adopted to improve Travelers' Information Stations (TIS). At that time, the FCC proposed another fairly drastic change – the elimination of certain filtering requirements – that might potentially improve the service. The proposal went farther than some commenters thought advisable, which prompted them to propose a more moderate approach and, in response, the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau has now issued a Public Notice seeking further comment. (The...
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A chance for you to hear directly from CommLawBlog contributors and friends. CommLawBlog is pleased to announce the debut of a new feature: CommLawBlog Live! From time to time, we will present our bloggers, and maybe even some outside guests, discussing communications law issues in a live online format. The kick-off show is set for Tuesday, April 22, at 3:00 p.m. – it will feature Kevin “The Swami” Goldberg and Harry “Blogmeister” Cole sharing their observations about the Aereo oral argument in the Supreme Court (which both will be attending earlier that day). Which Justices asked what questions? How did counsel respond?...
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In case you ever wondered whether there’s such a thing as “unrecusal” – and, frankly, we hadn’t – here’s the answer: yes. The Supreme Court has announced that Justice Alito, who had recused himself from any participation in any aspect of the Aereo case (which, we remind you, is set for oral argument next week), is no longer recused. The Supremes aren’t required to explain their recusals and, it appears, the same is true of unrecusals. Whatever the reason, with Alito back on board the full nine-member court is now set to hear the case. That eliminates the possibility of...
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Increased restrictions and an at-best-vague waiver policy threaten continued viability of many if not most joint sales arrangements. Everybody knows that, back on March 31, the Commission significantly altered the playing field for television broadcasters. In two separate items adopted that day the FCC (a) barred non-commonly-owned Top 4 network affiliates in a given market from engaging in joint retransmission consent negotiations, and (b) changed its approach to ownership attribution of joint sales agreements (JSAs). The full text of the retrans consent decision was released the day of the meeting. (You can check out our post on it here.) But the...
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About a year and a half ago we alerted readers to a Petition for Rulemaking proposing that the FCC allow lawyers to file class actions on behalf of complainants. Rather than summarily toss the petition, the Commission invited public comments on it. And now, 19 months down the line, the Commission has tossed the petition. Not surprisingly, the FCC sees no need to set up a new class action process when the federal courts are already highly experienced in handling such cases. Further, there’s the question of resources: the Commission recognizes that implementation of a class action process would suck up...
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A Federal Register notice suggests that the FCC may be thinking about re-imposing the Form 395-B requirement – but the notice neglects a couple of problems. It’s baaaack – maybe. The Commission’s decade-dormant annual employment report form has stirred. In a Federal Register notice the FCC has advised that it is cranking up the process (mandated by the hilariously-named Paperwork Reduction Act) to secure the approval of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to continue to keep Form 395-B in the FCC’s roster of forms. There are multiple problems here. As longtime Commission watchers may recall, Form 395-B calls for broadcast...
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Does the report on the first formal tests of a TV channel-sharing arrangement really say what FCC Chair Tom Wheeler says it says? YOU make the call. At the recent NAB Show in Las Vegas, Chairman Wheeler came on like a cheerleader at a pep rally, touting the upcoming incentive auction program. (For readers who weren’t there, it was something like Darth Vader trying to sell the Rebel Alliance on the obvious benefits available to Empire participants.) According to Wheeler, the auction presents “a terrific financial opportunity for broadcasters” – and that’s because of the possibility of certain cooperative agreements between...
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As we announced several days ago, we’ll be presenting a FREE webinar next Wednesday, April 16 (at 3:00 p.m.), on the Aereo case. The Supreme Court will be hearing arguments in the case on April 22, so our webinar – hosted by Kevin Goldberg and Harry Cole – will provide attendees a comprehensive overview of the history of the Aereo litigation leading up to the Supremes. The webinar is designed to provide background and perspective to help make sense of both the arguments before the Court and the speculation likely to follow the arguments. While space is limited, we still have...
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