CommLawCenter Blog (Courtesy of Pillsbury)

By Scott R. Flick For a company that could always punch well above its weight in drawing press coverage, Aereo's sale of its assets in bankruptcy last week drew surprisingly little coverage. Less than a month before last year's Supreme Court decision finding that Aereo's retransmission of broadcast TV signals over the Internet constituted copyright infringement, a Forbes article discussing Aereo's prospects in court noted the company had "a putative valuation of $800 million or so (that could vault up if Aereo wins)." The article went on to note that "It's a tidy business, too, bringing in an...
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By David Burns While the FCC's net neutrality order got most of the attention yesterday, the FCC took another major broadband-related action at its February 26 meeting. Over the strenuous objections of incumbent internet service providers ("ISPs"), trade associations for ISPs, states, the National Governor's Association and others, the FCC on a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Pai and O'Rielly dissenting, preempted state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina which placed limitations on municipally-owned broadband networks. The FCC's action, if upheld in the judicial review certain to follow, would allow municipalities currently prohibited by state law from expanding service to...
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By Scott R. Flick and Paul A. Cicelski The FCC voted on net neutrality rules in an open meeting today (that was delayed an hour due to yet more snow in DC), and the highly anticipated vote ran into a few last minute snags. First, Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, one of the three Democrats on the FCC's five-member Commission and an essential vote given the party-line split at the FCC on net neutrality, asked Chairman Wheeler to scale back some of the proposed provisions in the Order prior to today's vote. Second, the tension between the Chairman and Republican commissioners...
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By Scott R. Flick and Jessica Nyman February 2015 Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes: FCC Issues $3.36 Million Fine to Company and Its CEO for Selling Toll Free Numbers Antenna Fencing and Public Inspection File Violations Result in $17,000 Fine FCC Reiterates That "Willful Violation" Does Not Require "Intent to Violate the Law" Hold the Phone: FCC Finds Company and CEO Jointly and Severally Liable for Brokering Toll Free Numbers The FCC handed down a $3,360,000 fine to a custom connectivity solutions...
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By: Paul A. Cicelski It is an unusual occasion indeed when the FCC offers to revise its rules to provide regulatory relief to both television and radio stations. Yet that is precisely what the FCC proposed in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to update its station-conducted contest rule to allow broadcasters to post contest rules online rather than broadcast them. As the proposal now stands, stations would no longer need to broadcast the contest rules if they instead announce the full website address where the rules can be found each time they discuss the contest on-air. The FCC's current contest...
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By Lauren Lynch Flick and Paul A. Cicelski Everyone with a cell phone has probably received an unsolicited telemarketing robocall or text made by a company using an automated dialing system at some point. As we have previously written, a federal statute, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act ("TCPA"), prohibits making any autodialed call or sending a text to mobile phones, except in the case of an emergency or where the called party has provided their consent. And, where the autodialed call is a telemarketing call, that consent must be in writing. Significant fines have been levied against companies...
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By Scott R. Flick and Jessica Nyman January 2015 Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes: Individual fined $25,000 for Unauthorized "Chanting and Heavy Breathing" on Public Safety Station Failure to Timely Request STA Results in $5,000 Fine FCC Imposes $11,500 Fine for Intentional Interference and Station ID Violation FCC Fired up by a New Yorker's Deliberate Disregard for Public Safety Earlier this month, the FCC imposed a $25,000 fine against a New York man for operating a radio transmitter without a license and...
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By Scott R. Flick and Paul A. Cicelski In a just released Public Notice, the Media Bureau has designated May 29, 2015, as the Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline. That is the date by which certain full-power and Class A TV stations must have a license application on file with the FCC in order for their modified facilities to be protected in the repacking process following the spectrum incentive auction. While the FCC earlier concluded that full-power and Class A TV facilities licensed by February 22, 2012 would be protected in the repacking, it envisioned protection of TV facilities licensed after that date...
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By Scott R. Flick I wrote in March of last year that the FCC had proposed fines of $1,120,000 against Viacom, $530,000 against NBCUniversal, and $280,000 against ESPN for airing ads for the movie Olympus Has Fallen that promoted the movie with an EAS alert tone. Seven Viacom cable networks aired the spot a total of 108 times, seven NBCUniversal cable networks aired it a total of 38 times, and ESPN aired it a total of 13 times on three cable networks. According to the FCC, NBC elected to pay its $530,000 fine shortly thereafter and call it a...
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By Paul A. Cicelski The press has been abuzz in recent months regarding the launch of various Internet-based video services and the FCC's decision to revisit its current definition of Multichannel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs). In December, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), seeking to "modernize" its rules to redefine what constitutes an MVPD. The FCC's proposals would significantly expand the universe of what is considered an "MVPD" to include a wide-variety of Internet-based offerings. Today, the FCC released a Public Notice providing the dates by which parties can provide their own suggestions regarding...
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By Scott R. Flick In what has become an annual holiday tradition going back so far none of us can remember when it started (Pillsbury predates the FCC by 66 years), we released the 2015 Broadcasters' Calendar last week. While starting a new year is usually jarring, particularly breaking yourself of the habit of dating everything "2014", this new year seems particularly so, as many took last Friday off, making today, January 5th, their first day back at work. For broadcasters, whose fourth quarter regulatory reports need to be in their public inspection files by January 10th, that doesn't leave...
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By Scott R. Flick and Jessica Nyman December 2014 Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes: Sponsorship Identification Violation Yields $115,000 Civil Penalty $13,000 Increase in Fine Upheld for Deliberate and Continued Operation at Unauthorized Location FCC Reduces $14,000 Fine for EAS and Power Violations Due to Inability to Pay FCC Adopts Consent Decree Requiring Licensee to Pay $115,000 Civil Penalty Earlier this month, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau entered into a Consent Decree with a Nevada TV station terminating an investigation into violations...
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