Promoting and Advocating for the Broadcasters of Nevada, While Serving the Public

Nevada Broadcasters Association

Suzanne

The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau this week issued two fines, one for $6000 and another for $5200 for violations of its contest rules, as the contests were not conducted as advertised.  In each of these cases, a prize winner was not awarded a prize in a timely manner.  In both cases, the prizes were not provided to winners even after the winners inquired, and, for one reason or another, the stations did not immediately respond to the prize winner to resolve the issue – instead providing substitute prizes only when FCC complaints were filed.  Even though both prize winners appeared satisfied by the substitute prizes and withdrew their complaints, the FCC nevertheless issued the fines finding that the contests had not been conducted as promised, in that the original prizes were not awarded on a timely basis.  While in both cases the delays appeared to simply be the result of station staff not making a priority of determining how to deal with delivering the prizes, these cases serve as a warning to broadcasters to review their contest rules and make sure that station staff understand that, if an unexpected glitch arises, they should not dawdle in working to resolve those issues.

As we have written before, the FCC requires that broadcasters adopt written rules for contests disclosing all material terms of those contests (see our posts here here and here that talk about some of the material rules that need to be covered) and make those rules available to the public.  While the rules can now be posted online instead of having to be read on the air, the station must still alert listeners through on-air announcements as to where those rules are available (see our articles here and here).  In writing their contest rules, the station should anticipate all the glitches that might occur in the contest process and spell out what will happen if one of these problems crops up.  Obviously, a prize becoming unavailable is a frequent issue.  Technical glitches also can become issues (e.g., phone lines not working or text message programs misidentifying the proper winner).  These should be anticipated, with explanations of what will happen should any of these occur.  What will happen may differ if the glitch occurs before the contest has been conducted (where you need to decide how to treat those who already entered) or after the prize has been awarded (e.g., as in this week’s cases, where substitute prizes were given).  Anticipate the unexpected.

We have written before about a litany of other contest mishaps that can occur (see our posts hereherehere and here about some of those problems).  Stations have had instances where joking statements by a weekend announcer were such that listeners thought that a real contest was being conducted – with complaints following when the listeners found out that no contest was really intended.  In another case, a station designed an elaborate contest to reveal a few clues each day to a puzzle, anticipating that it would take weeks before the listeners would be able to solve the mystery.  When the correct response came almost immediately after the contest began, station staff ignored it – not realizing that someone had guessed the answer so quickly.  You simply never know how a contest will play out, and stations need to have rules that anticipate all eventualities – and train their staffs to be ready to deal with the issues that may arise.

Review the rules of other stations and other companies to see what other issues they are anticipating.  Disclose what the audience might find important including who they are competing against, how they enter and how they win – and any issues, technical or otherwise, that can affect the odds of winning.  And have your attorney review the rules to make sure that the issues and problems and your proposed remedies are clearly spelled out.  Finally, train your staff to be ready to deal with any eventuality that may arise and don’t let problems fester into FCC fines.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

The FCC’s International Bureau released a preliminary list of C-Band earth stations (those that operate in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band) in the contiguous U.S. that the Bureau has reviewed and said appear to qualify as “incumbent earth stations” which will be eligible for reimbursement for reasonable costs of changes to their facilities caused by the upcoming repacking of the C-Band.  The C-Band will be partially reallocated for use by wireless carriers, requiring changes in many existing earth stations.  The FCC’s notice about the preliminary list is available here, the preliminary list of incumbent C-band earth stations with explanatory notes in PDF format is available here, and the preliminary list of incumbent C-band earth stations as an Excel chart is available here.  It is important that all broadcasters who have registered earth stations immediately review this list – as corrections need to be submitted to the FCC in just a week – by July 16, 2020.

The Bureau reviewed the status of all earth stations with active or pending licenses or registrations in the C-band.  The incumbent licensees were those who were operating in 2018 and filed FCC registrations by that year and updated those registrations in 2019 (see our articles here and here).  The list includes earth stations whose timely-filed applications are still pending, though they may ultimately not be eligible for reimbursement if the applications are not granted.  The Bureau did not include earth stations whose applications it has dismissed as not meeting the criteria for incumbent status, even if the dismissal is not yet final under the Commission’s rules.

Corrections to the list need to be submitted to the FCC in writing by July 16, 2020, as well as any comments on the list and the FCC’s notice.  If your earth station was left off the list, or the information is inaccurate, corrections need to be made.  The FCC notice sets out very particular procedural requirements for the filings, which need to include the FCC file numbers of authorizations and reference to the Docket number of the FCC’s proceeding in which this notice was issued. No new earth stations or changes in the location of such stations will be accepted.  The FCC is allowing minor corrections to site addresses and/or GPS coordinates of an existing earth station location or minor changes in operations (e.g., change in an emission designator or, importantly, an antenna no longer in use, or other information that would help inform the satellite operators’ transition plans).

The comments and corrections must be filed electronically in an FCC database and need to follow the specifics set out in the notice.  Stations should consult with their engineers and lawyers to make sure that any required filings are made following the procedures set out in the Notice, by the July 16 deadline.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

A decision was expected in December on the royalties to be paid by broadcasters and other digital media companies who stream their non-interactive audio programming on the Internet.  As we wrote at the beginning of the pandemic, the Copyright Royalty Board, which hears the arguments about the royalties to be paid to SoundExchange in a trial-type administrative hearing, had to postpone the hearing that was initially slated to begin in March.  That hearing will now begin later this month.  Because of the delays in the hearing caused by the pandemic, Congress authorized the Copyright Office to extend various statutory deadlines.  This week, the Copyright Office announced that the December deadline for a decision on webcasting royalties has been pushed until April 15, 2021.

This does not mean that the royalties themselves will not go into effect on January 1.  The current CRB proceeding is to determine the rates that will be in effect for 2021 through 2025.  The proceeding began early in 2019 (see our posts here and here).  The January 1 effective date for the new royalties remains in place, so any decision released later in 2021 will be retroactive.  In January, webcasters and other internet radio operators will pay the royalties currently in place, and there will be some mechanism for a true up of the amounts due once the decision becomes effective.  That is not unusual in the music royalty world.  Just a few months ago, the Radio Music License Committee reached an agreement with BMI on royalties that was retroactive several years.  The Copyright Royalty Board decisions themselves, even if released to the parties in December, are often not final until the next year as the public version of any CRB decision usually takes time to release, and the parties have time after a decision is released to seek edits to the decision.  The Copyright Office itself also reviews the CRB decision for legal errors.  Even after that, the decision can be appealed to the Courts, so the ultimate resolution may be unknown for years – yet parties conduct their business while waiting to see if any adjustments to fees already paid may be due at some later time.

This proceeding moves forward as most of these cases do – with SoundExchange asking for a substantial increase in the royalties and the webcasting community, including broadcasters, Google, and Sirius XM (including Pandora) asking for decreases.  The big difference is that this year, the trial will be held virtually on an electronic platform rather than in a courtroom in Washington DC (where the Copyright Office is still closed to the public).  The pleadings in the case, including the rate proposals, are available for review on the CRB’s website, though confidential business information is redacted in the public documents to preserve the business secrets of the parties in the case.  That confidential information is available only to the Judges and the attorneys and expert witnesses in the case.  Watch for the Judges’ decision in April of next year to see if the rates for January 2021 through December of 2025 will change – and, if so, which way they will go.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

When do noncommercial stations stray from permissible acknowledgment of those local businesses that provide funding for its operations to impermissible commercials?  That question was addressed in a Notice of Apparent Liability issued by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau on Thursday, proposing a $15,000 fine for a low power FM station whose underwriting announcements were deemed too commercial.  The decision, which includes examples of the announcements deemed problematic, is must-reading for all noncommercial licensees who want to avoid fines from the FCC in connection with their underwriting acknowledgements for commercial entities.

The decision breaks down into four categories the reasons for finding the announcements in this case to be too promotional.  The first category is one that often arises in connection with these announcements – the underwriting announcement uses terms that make qualitative claims about the sponsor.  You can’t talk about a commercial sponsor being voted the “best” or being the “most experienced.”  Talking about mechanics who are “experts” in working on certain cars, or decorators who have “an exceptional eye for the perfect arrangement” are all examples of announcements that cross the line.  In this case, some of the examples of impermissible qualitative claims include a car repair shop with “certified master technicians” who use “state of the art equipment.”  Another was for a new real estate company that was characterized as being “one of the fastest growing real estate companies in the country” having “23 agents and a combined experience of over 300 years” and being a “national company with a local flair” having “recruited some of the most well-known agents.”  Another for a computer repair company was perhaps closer to the line but still was deemed too promotional, saying “don’t waste your time when you have a professional nerd to help make your life run easier” and “we’re not your average nerds.”  In some cases, like the last one, had it been the only identified issue, the FCC may have just determined that it was an exercise of licensee judgement about what was too promotional and let it go.  But in a case like this one, with so many other issues, it was identified as being a problem.

The second category of violations in this case was described as “using pricing language and/or offering inducements to do business.”  Underwriting announcements for commercial entities should not contain price information or information about sales (no “2 for 1” sales or “25% discounts for seniors on Tuesday” messages).  Some of the examples here were subtler, and not as price-focused – in some cases instead apparently focusing on the “inducements to do business.”  For a realty company, it appears that the FCC may have had concerns with a new realty partnership saying that they were formed “to further our involvement in the community and to help our friends and family sell their home and find their dream home.”  Another was clearer – an auto repair shop offering to take $30 off a repair bill if a customer donated $15 to a local charity.  Seemingly in the category of offering an inducement rather than specific price information was an announcement for a company that claimed to not just be a sponsor, but “also fans of the most wonderful music ever recorded.”  Again, that last one might have been overlooked had there not been so many other issues.

The third category of violations was one that does not often get too much attention – that being the inclusion in an underwriting announcement of “menu listings” (e.g., excessive arrayal) of products or services offered by the sponsor (though this issue and the fourth category were discussed in this case we wrote about in 2018 which imposed a $115,000 fine on a noncommercial station for underwriting violations).  What the FCC has said in the past is that an underwriting announcement can identify the sponsor and generally say what its business is, but it should not be overly inclusive in its listing of the products and services offered by the business.  So saying that you are a furniture store is permissible, but listing all the brands that your store carries likely creates an issue.  In this case, a message for a steakhouse that included the following description of products and services was deemed too much: “a nine-ounce large filet mignon or the Cattlemen’s 20oz club steak…. their basic burger, mushroom burger, bronco burger, and house patty melt…. with any entree, you get combo chicken, shrimp, or rack ribs. Banquet facilities and private rooms available.”  Another restaurant offering “carne asada, spicy coconut red curry lobster, chicken fried ribeye, beef tenderloin scallops, smoked pork chops, a cubano sandwich, a bison burger, a lamb burger, and a variety of soups and salads” was also deemed to be a problem.  Similar issues were found with an announcement for a computer services company offering help “with virus removal, hardware, computer repair, software tech support, data recovery, computer service, laptop computer repair, network computer support, and business tech support….[they] cover any make or model of computer servers, desktops, laptops, notebooks, tablets, smartphones, game devices, personal data assistance, and cameras, printers, and scanners.”  The take-away – keep the description of the products or services short and general.

The final issue was a concern about underwriting announcements that were more than 30 seconds long.  It is hard to provide the examples here as there is no audio in the FCC decision – and the text of the announcements identified as being problematic don’t readily show their length.  But, the FCC has in the past suggested that the bare acknowledgment of a sponsor and a brief statement of what they do with some general location data or a website address or phone number – without a call to action saying to visit the sponsor or any of the other problems identified here – should not take long.  In at least one case (see our post here) the FCC has had problems with an overly produced underwriting announcement that was too long and just sounded too hyped – even if the language of the announcement itself was within permissible boundaries.  So here, the message is to be cautious – if it sounds too much like it could be a commercial, the FCC may well think that it is.  And, certainly, do not exceed 30 seconds in length – and even shorter is better.

We’ve suggested before that underwriting announcements should be kind of boring – just the facts – and keep them short.  We have received some pushback from underwriting managers at noncommercial stations about that advice to be boring.  It was suggested that a better way to characterize it is that announcements should be informational not promotional.  No matter how it is characterized, noncommercial stations should be careful.  Commercial competitors and others can be listening and, as this case shows, if there are issues raised, the FCC is not hesitant to ask questions and issue fines.  Talk to your station’s attorney about the issues that can arise in underwriting so that your station is not the next one to receive this kind of notice from the FCC.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

Here are some of the FCC actions of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau entered into negotiated settlements with two Boston-area pirate radio operators who admitted to illegal operations and agreed to pay civil fines, to dispose of their broadcast equipment and to not commit—or help anyone else commit—acts of radio piracy for twenty years. In one case, the FCC last year initially proposed a fine of $151,005 fine for the illegal operation.  After examining the operator’s finances, the Bureau agreed to a $4,000 fine now, with a penalty of $75,000 should the operator violate the law again (Radio Concorde).  In the second case, the FCC had proposed a $453,015 fine last year, but agreed to take $5,000 now, with penalty of $225,000 if the operator violates the terms of the consent decree (Radio TeleBoston Consent Decree).  Last year, we wrote on the Broadcast Law Blog about the fines initially proposed for these two operators.
  • The Enforcement Bureau also issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for $15,000 to an LPFM licensee for violating FCC rules prohibiting non-commercial educational broadcast stations from airing commercial advertisements. The Bureau alleges that more than 1,600 advertisements improperly promoted the products, services, or businesses of at least 14 financial contributors.  The Bureau said the announcements were “clearly promotional” by referring to qualitative claims about the underwriters and their products, by providing price information or an overly extensive list of the products or services provided by the companies, or by providing underwriting acknowledgments that were more than 30 seconds long. Noncommercial licensees looking to make sure their announcements comply with FCC rules should read the full FCC decision, which includes the text of the prohibited announcements.  (Notice of Apparent Liability).  Look for more on this decision next week in the Broadcast Law Blog.
  • The FCC this week told its staff that it will not be returning to the building that has been its headquarters for the last 20 years and that they will continue to telework until at least August 27, when the move to the new headquarters building should be complete. See the Broadcast Law Blog for more details on the FCC’s move.

Looking ahead, last week we posted on the Broadcast Law Blog our look at broadcast regulatory dates and deadlines for July.  There is a lot to stay on top of this month, including the July 10 deadline for Quarterly Issues Programs lists for the first and second quarters of this year to be uploaded to the public file of all radio and TV stations, the end of the TV repack, Children’s Television reports due dates, EEO reporting, a new deadline for uploading information about MVPD carriage election information to the public file, an LPTV settlement window, and due dates for rulemaking comments in various proceedings.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: End of the TV Repacking, Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, Children’s Television Reporting, EEO, Carriage Election Public File Information Deadline, LPTV Settlement Window, Rulemaking Comments and More | Broadcast Law Blog
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Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

Here are some of the regulatory actions of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations:

  • FEMA announced that it has canceled the 2020 test of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which is the technical infrastructure that delivers EAS messages to radio and TV stations. FEMA noted the “unusual circumstances and working conditions” brought on by the pandemic and acknowledged that post-test reporting would place additional burdens on station personnel already stretched thin to keep their operations on the air.  (Broadcast Law Blog)  (News Release)
  • Through a Public Notice, the FCC announced July 13 as the effective date for certain technical rules for LPFM stations. Though some of the new rules, like changes to the waiver process regarding interference between Channel 6 TV stations and noncommercial FM stations operating on the reserved band and use by LPFM stations of FM boosters become effective next month, other rules, like changes regarding the use of directional antennas and a revision to the definition of a minor change will not be effective until a later date, as yet unannounced.  See the Broadcast Law Blog post here for more detail.  (Public Notice)  (Report and Order)
  • The FCC announced in April that, in light of the shifting economic situation facing many broadcast advertisers, it would allow stations to air certain PSAs, using time donated by commercial entities to organizations involved in the pandemic relief effort, without identifying the commercial entities paying for the time as would otherwise be required by the sponsorship identification rules (see our Broadcast Law Blog article on that decision).  The waiver was to expire on June 30, but this week it was extended through August 31, 2020. (Order)
  • The FCC denied an Application for Review submitted by a West Virginia LPTV operator making clear that the Communications Act and FCC rules do not require mandatory carriage of LPTV stations on satellite television systems. (Memorandum Opinion and Order)
  • In a reminder that stations must file an application whenever there is a change in control of a broadcast station, even one caused by the death of a controlling shareholder, the Commission upheld the Media Bureau’s decision to dismiss an application for license renewal of a Mississippi FM station because it failed to do so, which effectively terminated its right to operate. (Order on Reconsideration)
  • Comments were due this week in the FCC’s video description proceeding. Video description refers to the provision on a subchannel of spoken narration describing what is happening on screen in TV programming to aid blind or visually impaired persons.  The Commission sought comment on expanding the video description rules to require more TV stations to provide this service. In the first round of comments filed this week, the National Association of Broadcasters urged the Commission to delay the effective date of the proposed expansion of the video description requirements by 9 months (from January 1, 2021 to October 1, 2021).  NAB cites the difficulty for stations that are already deep into budgeting for 2021 to accommodate this new financial outlay, especially as many stations are trying to recover from the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.  (MB Docket 11-43)  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • The FCC dismissed an application to deliver Chinese programming from a studio in the US to a Mexican station which places a signal back into the United States. Federal law (Section 325(c) of the Communications Act) requires FCC approval for US-produced programming to be exported to a foreign station with significant US coverage.  This procedural decision suggests that all parties producing the programming need to be co-applicants.  (News Release)  (Order)
  • The five FCC Commissioners visited Capitol Hill to participate in a Senate Commerce Committee oversight hearing. The statements, questions and answers focused mostly on non-broadcast matters, but the Commissioners reiterated their support for press freedom, discussed Broadcast Internet services, the C4 radio station class and the minority tax certificate.  (Commissioner Prepared Statements and Archived Video)

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

Should broadcasters be able to originate programming on FM translators?  Playing off the proposal to allow limited amounts of programming on FM boosters – basically the insertion of local ads, news, or emergency alerts – in the zonecasting proposal on which the FCC took comments earlier this year (see our summary here), a group of broadcasters has taken the proposal one step further, and asked if translators (including those FM translators rebroadcasting AM stations) should not have the same rights proposed for boosters.  Comments on this proposal (available here) are due July 23.

These comments were originally filed in connection with the zonecasting proceeding (see our summary of the comments here).  But they go beyond the zonecasting proposal for limited amounts of origination programming on boosters, and seek to expand the amount of time that translators can originate programming different than their primary stations.  The advocates propose not just the substitution of short messages, but to allow translators to originate as much as 40 hours per week of programming different than that offered on their primary stations.  And the proposal also suggests that translators be allowed to be located within the primary station’s 45 dbu contour, rather than within the 60 dbu contour of an FM primary station as now required (playing off the 45 dbu contour now being used as the one in which primary FM stations can claim protection from interference from FM translators – see our article here).

The comments that are due by July 23 are just the initial stage of the FCC review, giving the FCC advice as whether or not to devote more time to reviewing and processing this idea.  If there is enough support from the industry and internally at the FCC, the FCC would further review the idea, formulate specific proposals for the implementation of some or all of the suggestions in the petition, and ask for further public comment in a Notice of Inquiry or Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.  Only after the receipt of those comments would the FCC be able to adopt any of these suggestions.  So it will likely be well down the road before any of these ideas could be implemented.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

The year of the pandemic claimed another victim – this one being what has become a regular event – the nationwide test of the EAS system (see our articles here and here about the last two tests – tests which are required to assess the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System – IPAWS – at least once every 3 years).  In an announcement yesterday, FEMA decided that, with all that is going on in the world at the current time, and with many stations operating with limited employees in their buildings now, this was not the best time to be conducting a test of a system meant to alert listeners to emergencies and requiring the attendant paperwork reporting on the results of the tests.  It seems a wise choice not to send any unnecessary emergency attention signals over broadcast stations and the facilities of other EAS participants to a public already tired of emergency messages.  In its notice, FEMA states that over 360 emergency messages have been sent related to COVID-19 matters from emergency officials across the country.  So this test is one more thing that broadcasters can cross off their list of things to worry about in the last half of 2020.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog

Here are some of the legal and regulatory actions of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC released a Second Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration regarding Next Gen TV (ATSC 3.0). The Report and Order provides guidance on how the Commission will evaluate petitions for waiver of the local simulcasting rules for broadcasters deploying ATSC 3.0 who cannot find a partner station to broadcast its signal in the current transmission standard, declines to allow broadcasters to use vacant in-band channels for voluntary ATSC 3.0 deployment, and clarifies that the “significantly viewed” status of an ATSC 3.0 station will not change when that station moves its ATSC 1.0 simulcast channel to a host facility.  The Order on Reconsideration denied petitions challenging aspects of the Commission’s 2017 Next Gen TV order, including issues dealing with the local simulcast requirement, the application of retransmission consent rules, patent licensing issues, and sunset of the obligation to use the current transmission standard for ATSC 3.0 (that sunset allowing the new transmission mode to evolve over time without the need for FCC action).  (Second Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration)
  • The Commission granted a waiver to a Jacksonville, Florida TV station, allowing it to complete its post-incentive auction move to a new channel by September 8, beyond the current July 3 end of Phase 10 of the repacking of the television band when all TV stations were to have moved to their post-transition facilities. Because of issues related to COVID-19 and other technical matters, the Commission granted this extension and authorized its Media Bureau to grant similar relief to other stations suffering from similar delays (Order)
  • Two members of Congress wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging the Commission to “halt any increases to annual regulatory fees due in 2020 for broadcast licensees.” Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) wrote in their letter that this action requires no congressional action and would help alleviate some of the economic hardship suffered by stations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Members noted that broadcasters are a critical component of the pandemic response by, among other things, informing and educating Americans about public health guidance.  (Letter).  The NAB, as well as a group of state broadcast associations, also filed comments at the FCC opposing the FCC’s proposal to increase broadcast regulatory fees, arguing that broadcasters’ fees should not increase in relation to the fees paid by other industries regulated by the FCC, particularly as broadcasters have been so hard hit by the economic fallout of the pandemic. (NAB Comments and State Association Comments)
  • Last Monday, the reply comment period closed in the FCC’s Significant Viewing proceeding. Designation as a significantly viewed station has implications for determining whether a cable or satellite TV system will carry a TV station in an area that is not part of its home market.  For an in-depth look at what the FCC seeks to resolve through this proceeding, see this post at the Broadcast Law Blog.  (Reply Comments)
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing considering the re-nomination of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly to a new five-year term. The Commissioner, in response to a question, noted that he believes the FCC’s and DOJ’s current media competition rules are “problematic,” and that he hopes to work with DOJ to shift its narrow view of the competitive marketplace where it does not recognize that broadcasters  don’t just compete with other broadcasters, but instead directly compete with a wide range of other media companies, including digital media outlets.  (Opening Statement and Archived Video)(see Broadcast Law Blog articles here and here on the competition between broadcasters and other media and how the assessment of the definition of the marketplace is important to the evaluation of broadcast ownership limits)
  • The Enforcement Bureau acted last week against two pirate radio operations, one in Pennsylvania and one in Arkansas. These actions are reminders that broadcast operators must hold a valid license to operate and that the FCC will pursue illegal operations.
    • In the first case, the Enforcement Bureau shut down a station that was broadcasting on 90.7 MHz and 91.5 MHz from Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. The operator, as part of a consent decree, admitted to the unauthorized operation of the station, agreed to pay a $1,500 civil penalty, and agreed to not operate an unauthorized station in the future.  The PIRATE Act, signed into law in early 2020, gives the FCC authority to fine pirate radio operators up to $100,000 per violation (with a $2 million cap), but, in this case, the operator claimed an economic hardship, which persuaded the FCC to lower the fine to $1,500.  (Order and Consent Decree)
    • In the second case, the Enforcement Bureau issued a $10,000 fine to an operator for the unauthorized operation of a radio station on 103.1 MHz in Alma, Arkansas. (Forfeiture Order)
  • The US Court of Appeals upheld a lower court order throwing out a rule adopted by the Department of Health and Human Services that would have required all TV advertising for prescription drugs to state the wholesale price of the drug. Based on these court decisions, this additional information will not need to be added to the disclaimers that these ads already contain. (Court Decision)(Broadcast Law Blog article on the decision)

We’ll be watching the following hearing next week to assess its significance to broadcasters:

  • The Senate Commerce Committee will hold an FCC oversight hearing on June 24 at 10 AM. All five FCC Commissioners are expected to attend and testify about past FCC actions and issues that it is currently considering.  (Hearing Details and Livestream)

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog