CommLawBlog (Courtesy of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth)

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We down here in the CommLawBlog bunker want to shine a spotlight – make that a high intensity white strobe – on the Tower Family Foundation. Just now getting off the ground (full official name: the Tower Industry Family Support Charitable Foundation), it provides financial assistance to family members of tower workers who are severely injured, permanently disabled, or killed while doing their job. The Foundation is providing important support for workers who are essential to any communications operation whose business depends on equipment hanging off the side (or stuck on top) of a tower. No, you probably don’t have any...
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Two former interns take important step toward “class action” status. Class. Some litigants have it. Some don’t. A couple of folks who worked as interns at Gawker Media have managed to convince a Federal District Court Judge in New York that they might have it. And that’s bad news for Gawker. If you’ve read my August, 2013 post about lawsuits brought against media companies by unpaid interns, you should have an idea of what I’m talking about. Two former interns (originally there were four, but two of them bailed) sued Gawker, claiming, among other things, that Gawker hadn’t paid them as required by...
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FCC provides “bulk upload” option for adding even more comments to the million-plus already on file – now who’s going to read them all? When last we took a sounding of the rising floodwaters of net neutrality comments, they were 1.1 million deep and more were pouring in. That was a month ago and, we’re pleased to report, the levees have apparently held. At least we assume that to be the case because the FCC has just announced, in effect, that it’s opening the dam upstream in an apparent effort to increase the flow of incoming comments. In a blog post on...
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If you missed the webinar Kevin Goldberg and Harry Cole presented on the latest twists and turns in the Aereo case (and the prospects for more twists and turns to come), worry not: it, like pretty much everything else, is on the Internet. The folks at Team Lightbulb, who arranged and promoted the webinar, have posted a recording of the show here – all audio and video included. It’s free.
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Google joins Key Bridge Global LLC, Spectrum Bridge, Telcordia and, um, Google, in the ranks of “approved” database coordinators. Add one more (sort of) database coordinator to the “approved” list of white space database coordinators. The Commission has announced that Google has made it to the finish line – it's been approved to coordinate unlicensed “TV white space” devices. This is the second time Google has completed the process. As we have previously reported, Google was first approved in May, 2013. But then last June the Commission announced that Google had come back with a “major modification” to its already...
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If you missed the webinar Dan Kirkpatrick and Paul Feldman presented on the basics of the must-carry/retransmission consent process, never fear: you can catch it in re-runs. We’ve posted a recording of the show here – all audio and video included. It’s free. Look for a follow-up webinar exploring further details of the must-carry election process in coming months.
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Bureau tosses two complaints alleging inadequate sponsorship IDs – but that may not be good news in the long run. Several months ago we reported on complaints filed against a dozen or so TV stations with respect to the stations’ alleged failure to include in their online political files all of the various detailed information required by applicable political advertising laws. We expected that that was just an opening salvo. Turns out we were right. The same two complainants (this time joined by a third compadre) have since filed a couple more, based not on the political rules, but rather on the more...
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Hearing aid compatibility shortfall draws big fine. More than two years ago we reported that the FCC had proposed to fine T-Mobile a whopping $819,000 for violations of hearing aid compatibility (HAC) requirements. (Under those requirements both manufacturers and mobile carriers must offer a broad range of handsets that (a) don’t cause interference to hearing aids and (b) do work with the telecoil add-ons that many hearing aid wearers use.) As is customary, T-Mobile was given a chance to respond to the proposed fine, which it did (in May, 2012), arguing not that it hadn’t violated the rules, but rather that...
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 Fire up your computer, free up some space on your credit cards and get your FRN information ready – you’ve got until SEPTEMBER 23, 2014 to get your reg fees paid … and they must be paid electronically. Apparently intent on re-defining the terms “last minute” and “eleventh hour”, the Commission opted to wait until late on the afternoon of August 29 before it announced the final 2014 regulatory fees. For those of you anxious to cut to the chase, here’s a link to a convenient table setting out the new fees for broadcast-related services. (The table also provides, for TV-related...
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As we all know, the Supreme Court issued its decision in the Aereo case two months ago – but that wasn’t the end of the matter by any means. The Court’s decision left a number of questions unanswered. And, as has been the case since it burst onto the scene, Aereo is nothing if not creative, which means that, despite its loss in the Supremes, it has not exited the scene by a long shot. While maybe you took the summer off, our Aereo watchers, Kevin Goldberg and Harry Cole, did not. They’ve been keeping track of the fall-out following the...
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To the likely dislike of companies who aren’t careful about their social media policies, NLRB holds Facebook “liking” can be “concerted protected activity”. I’ve written a few pieces about the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and social media. For readers with short memories, the NLRB has held that, under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), an employee can speak out on a personal Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or any other personal social media account without fear of retaliatory discipline if the posting is “concerted protected activity” that is “not opprobrious” in nature. The term “not opprobrious” in this context is just...
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Audio Division may be considering designating some renewal applications for hearing, but practical considerations could, and should, make it think twice.  Last February my colleague Howard Weiss reported on a decision by the Audio Division that boded ill for radio stations that had been off the air (or operating with inadequate power) for too much of the preceding license term. Faced with a renewal application in which the station had been off the air for approximately one-half of the term, the Division granted the station only a two-year “short term” renewal, instead of the standard eight-year term.  That decision hinted that more...
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