CommLawCenter Blog (Courtesy of Pillsbury)

By Lauren Lynch Flick Late today, the FCC released a Public Notice stating that "[e]ffective immediately, the expiration dates and construction deadlines for all outstanding unexpired construction permits for new digital low power television (LPTV) and TV translator stations are hereby suspended pending final action in the rulemaking proceeding in MB Docket No. 03-185 initiated today by the Commission." As referenced in that statement, the FCC simultaneously released a Third Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) seeking comment on a number of issues related to the transition of LPTV stations to digital and their fate in the post-auction spectrum repacking. Specifically,...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick In a post today on the FCC's Blog, Diane Cornell, Special Counsel to Chairman Wheeler, described the FCC's efforts to reduce backlogs of applications, complaints, and other proceedings pending at the FCC. The post announces that the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau has closed 760 docketed proceedings, and is on track to close another 750 by the end of the year. The post also indicates that the FCC's Wireless Bureau resolved 2046 applications older than six months, reducing the backlog of applications by 26%. Of particular interest to broadcasters, however, is the news that the...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick In the U.S., jamming communications signals is illegal. Over the years, I've written a number of posts about the FCC's persistent efforts to prevent jamming. Among these were fines and other actions taken against an Internet marketer of cell phone jamming devices; a variety of individuals and companies selling cell phone jamming devices through Craigslist; an employer attempting to block cell phone calls by its employees at work; a truck driver jamming GPS frequencies to prevent his employer from tracking his whereabouts; and an individual jamming the frequencies used by a shopping mall for...
Read more...
By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim September 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: Unenclosed and Unpainted Tower Leads to $30,000 in Fines $20,000 Fine for Missing Issues/Programs Lists at Two Stations Increased Fine for Intentional Interference and Unlicensed Transmitter Use Multiple Tower Violations Result in Increased Fine Earlier this month, a Regional Director of the FCC's Enforcement Bureau (the "Bureau") issued a Forfeiture Order against the licensee of a New Jersey AM radio station for failing to properly paint its...
Read more...
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...