CommLawBlog (Courtesy of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth)

For more useful information visit: www.commlawblog.com.
Decision narrows Mattoon Waiver policy, tortures language in the process. “When I use a word, … it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” While that quote is, of course, from the noted wordsmith Humpty Dumpty, you’d be forgiven if you guessed that it came from the FCC’s Audio Division. The Division based a recent decision on the odd notion that the filing of a single application may constitute a “history of serial modification applicationS”. (We have capitalized and boldfaced the “S” in “applications” to highlight the conceptual difficulty of a single application being deemed “serial...
Read more...
Our friend Michael Marcus has been busy. Lucky for us. We recently reported on a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking input on the possible use of millimeter wave frequencies (i.e., 24 GHz and north) for mobile communications. Our friend, Michael Marcus, a spectrum-savvy engineer (and former FCC official) who knows a lot more than a thing or two about these things, has delved deeply into the NOI and distilled from it a jaw-dropping list of the questions posed by the Commission. We encourage anyone interested in this proceeding to take a gander at Mike’s handiwork – but it’s not for the...
Read more...
Preliminary injunction kills Aereo’s “live” retransmissions, but leaves it partly alive and still shuffling It’s still alive!!! Given up for dead by many, our old pal Aereo has managed to sidestep the Grim Reaper yet again. (Rule No. 2 in Zombieland: Always double tap.) But just barely, and its future prospects are not good. We’ve already covered Aereo’s arc from Nothing to Big Deal to, well, whatever it is now that Judge Alison Nathan has enjoined it from doing some, but not all, of the things it was originally set up to do. To recap briefly for newcomers, Aereo marketed itself as a...
Read more...
Readers will recall that, last spring, the Commission decided that certain TV joint sales agreements (JSAs) may create attributable interests for the purposes of determining compliance with the multiple ownership rules. And, thanks to that change, JSAs that do create such interests have to be filed with the Commission. That applies any arrangement – new and old – that authorizes one TV station in a market to sell 15% or more of the advertising time of another station in the same market. But as we reported back then, the requirement to file JSAs didn’t kick in when the rest of the...
Read more...
Meanwhile, back at the ranch … While the NAB and Sinclair press their appeal of the Commission’s Incentive Spectrum Auction Report and Order (R&O), a number of other folks have expressed their discontent with various aspects of the R&O in petitions for reconsideration that the FCC will have to address and resolve. A list of those petitions has been published in the Federal Register. That notice sets the deadlines for oppositions and replies.  Oppositions to any or all of these petitions must be filed by November 12, 2014; replies to any oppositions are due by November 21. More than 30 separate petitions...
Read more...
The limitations that make frequencies over 24 GHz unsuitable for mobile use may not be limitations after all. Engineers are never satisfied. Even when “4G” mobile service was still a new idea, the engineers had begun thinking ahead to what will eventually become 5G: 10 gigabits/second (far faster than 4G), a thousand-fold increase in traffic capacity, and end-to-end delays of no more than a thousandth of a second. The problem is to find radio frequencies for all that capacity and speed. The prevailing belief has been that mobile wireless works best only below about 3500 MHz. Higher frequencies propagate badly and do...
Read more...
If you picked “mid-2015” in your office pool for the date the FCC’s incentive spectrum auction would be held, we’ve got some bad news for you. While that was probably a pretty good bet up to now (since Commission officials have tenaciously stuck with the “mid-2015” date for some time), it’s not looking so good anymore. According to an item just posted on the FCC’s blog, the current target date is “early 2016”. Gary Epstein, Chair of the Commission’s Spectrum Auction Task Force, alluding to “undeniable impediments” in the auction’s path, has this to say: As Chairman Wheeler indicated several weeks ago,...
Read more...
High on the superstar's wish list: Increased video description services. Yes, you heard it right! Stevie Wonder, the legendary songwriter and recording artist, made the rounds, live and in person, at the FCC recently. He met with the Chairman and the other four Commissioners to advocate for greater availability of audio description services to provide better access for the blind to television programming. Mr. Wonder noted that he can go to his choice of movies in many theaters today and get a headset that delivers video description; but when the same movies are shown on television, the video description is absent....
Read more...
The clock is running down for the FCC’s sports blackout rules. The two-minute warning (actually, the 31-day warning) has been whistled. As pretty much everybody expected, the Commission abolished its blackout rules late last month. That action is now set to take effect on November 24, 2014, according to a notice in the Federal Register. Despite an aggressive defense mounted by the NAB and various sports leagues (including, most notably, the NFL), the Commission punted on the rules because they believed the rules were no longer necessary to ensure that sporting events remain widely available on television. Instead, the FCC was content to...
Read more...
More from our "Mother May I" file We have reported regularly on the plight of an applicant who has been denied 14 times in his efforts to get the FCC to grant the same two sets of applications. Given our previous attention to this, we would be remiss if we didn’t update our readers on the latest, if perhaps unsurprising, development: the applicant’s 15th try has been denied. As readers may recall, after the 11th adverse ruling, the FCC forbade this particularly persistent party from again asking for reconsideration without first getting the Commission’s permission. That, of course, led to three more...
Read more...
In late September we reported on the FCC’s request for comments about its proposed “TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund Reimbursement Form”. That’s the form that the Commission plans to use when, after the incentive spectrum auctions, TV licensees put pen to paper and figure out what it’s going to cost to move to their repacked facilities. Many (if not most) licensees will then be looking to Uncle Sam to cover those costs – and the Reimbursement Form (and related procedures described in the draft instructions to the form) will provide those licensees the access to the cash. In other words, the...
Read more...
Some rules relaxed while measures added to prevent interference to wireless networks  Back in early 2013, the FCC took steps to help consumers deal with the dreaded cell phone phenomenon of dead spots by allowing the use of private signal boosters. (Readers should recall that boosters receive and re-transmit cell phone signals to improve coverage in their immediate vicinity.) And now, underscoring its interest in encouraging such devices, the Commission has tweaked its rules. But be forewarned, the tweaks are highly technical and unless you’re deeply involved in the manufacturing side of the booster universe, you shouldn’t expect to notice...
Read more...