CommLawCenter Blog (Courtesy of Pillsbury)

By Scott R. Flick Few dates on the broadcasters' calendar are easier to miss than the deadline for TV stations (and a few fortunate LPTV stations) to send their must-carry/retransmission election letters to cable and satellite providers in their markets. Because it doesn't occur every year, or even every other year, but every third year, the triennial deadline can slip up on you if you don't closely monitor our Broadcast Calendar. For those that haven't been paying attention, October 1, 2014 is the deadline for TV stations to send their carriage election letters to MVPDs. The elections...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick Broadcasters let out a small sigh of relief today when the FCC made clear there is no requirement that TV stations have private investigators on staff. With TV stations' political files now available online, three political activist organizations have been jointly filing complaints against TV stations alleging various errors and omissions in online public file paperwork relating to political ad buys by third-party advertisers. These three organizations, the Campaign Legal Center, Sunlight Foundation, and Common Cause, expanded their campaign (no pun intended) substantially in mid-July, when they filed complaints against a Washington, DC and a Portland,...
Read more...
By Christine A. Reilly I wrote a post here in June on the FCC's release of its proposed regulatory fees for Fiscal Year 2014. Normally, the FCC releases an order adopting the official fee amounts and the deadline by which they must be filed in early to mid-August of each year. This year, however, licensees were beginning to get nervous, as August was coming to a close and there had still been no word from the FCC as to the final fee amounts and how quickly they must be paid. Fortunately, the FCC was able to get the fee...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim August 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: Nonexistent Studio Staff and Missing Public Inspection File Lead to $20,000 Fine Failure to Route 911 Calls Properly Results in $100,000 Fine Admonishment for Display of Commercial Web Address During Children's Programming Missing Public Inspection File and Staff Result in Increased Fine A Regional Director of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau (the "Bureau") issued a Forfeiture Order against a Kansas licensee for failing to operate a...
Read more...
By Paul A. Cicelski The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted a Report and Order to streamline and eliminate outdated provisions of its Part 17 Rules governing the construction, marking, and lighting of antenna structures. According to the Commission, the goal was to "remove barriers to wireless deployment, reduce unnecessary costs, and encourage providers to continue to deploy advanced systems that facilitate safety while preserving the safeguards to protect historic, environmental and local interests." The question, as Commissioner O'Rielly put it, is "why did it take nine years to get this item before the Commission for a vote?" While it...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick For those who follow my speaking schedule on our CommLawCenter Events Calendar... wait, no one follows my speaking schedule? Disappointing. Well if you had, you would have known I was speaking on a pair of regulatory panels at the Texas Association of Broadcasters' convention yesterday (incidentally, another great show this year from Oscar Rodriguez and TAB's excellent staff). On the first of those panels, with Stephen Lee of the FCC's Houston Enforcement Bureau office, we discussed the FCC's July 1st expansion of the TV online political file requirement to all TV stations. During that...
Read more...
By Paul A. Cicelski The FCC's July 11, 2014 Order, concluding that clips of video programming shown by broadcasters are required to be captioned when delivered on the Internet, was published in the Federal Register this week. The rule specifically applies when a provider posts a video clip or video programming online that was first aired on television ("covered" Internet Protocol (IP) video). The FCC ultimately plans to expand its Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) captioning rules to cover all forms of video programming on the Internet. As I have discussed many times previously, the FCC...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim July 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: Multi-Year Cramming Scheme Results in $1.6 Million Fine Violation of Retransmission Consent Rules Leads to $2.25 Million Fine $25,000 Fine for Failure to Respond to FCC Continued Cramming Practices Lead to Double the Base Fine The FCC recently issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL") against a Florida telephone company for "cramming" customers by billing them for unauthorized charges and fees related to long...
Read more...
By Paul A. Cicelski and Carly A. Deckelboim For those of you following our numerous posts on EAS matters over the years, a new chapter starts today. After participating in EAS summits and meetings for such a long time, it's hard to disagree that working to improve emergency alerts for all of us is one of the more important items before the FCC. The EAS summits hosted to address improvements to the alert system have been very useful toward achieving that goal, and many thanks should go out to the state broadcasters associations, the FCC, FEMA, the National Association of...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim June 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: Bad Legal Advice Leads to Admonishment for Public File Violations $10,000 Fine for Tower Violation Missing Emergency Alert System Equipment Results in $6,000 Fine Licensee's Poor Financial Condition and Reliance on Bad Legal Advice Fend Off Fines Earlier this month, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau issued an order against the former licensee of a Texas radio station admonishing the licensee but declining to impose $40,000 in previously...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick In a 6-3 decision released this morning, the Supreme Court didn't just rain on Aereo's parade, but drenched it. For a case involving fairly convoluted points of law, the Supreme Court's decision is surprisingly straightforward: if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, no amount of technology will change the fact that it is a duck. At this early stage of the case--keep in mind this was just about whether an injunction against Aereo should have been issued by the lower courts for one specific type of copyright infringement--the question before the Court...
Read more...
By Christine A. Reilly With the heat of Summer now upon us, the FCC is gearing up for its annual regulatory fee filing window, which usually occurs in mid-September. Like other federal agencies, the FCC must raise funds to pay for its operations ("to recover the costs of... enforcement activities, policy and rulemaking activities, user information services, and international activities."). For Fiscal Year 2014, Congress has, for the third year in a row, mandated that the FCC collect $339,844,000.00 from its regulatees. Accordingly, the FCC is now tasked with determining how to meet the Congressional mandate. ...
Read more...