This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: February 13, 2021 to February 19, 2021

Here are some of the regulatory developments 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.

  • Bidding in the auction of the C-Band has concluded. The FCC’s auction page for Auction 107 states that a formal public notice will be released shortly announcing the winners and setting deadlines for payment and other post-auction actions.  Broadcasters who elected lump-sum payments for clearing the C-Band spectrum sold in this auction will be paid at some point after the payments by the winning bidders are received, so the close of the auction moves the FCC one step closer to issuing those payments. (Auction Notice)
  • The FCC modified the market of a television station licensed to a community in the northern part of the New York City DMA to include communities in New Jersey which had previously been found to be outside its market (meaning local cable companies had no carriage obligations for the station). The prior decision had been based on the station’s lack of over-the-air coverage of the New Jersey communities. In this week’s decision, the Commission determined that the change in the signal contours of the station because of its post-incentive auction channel sharing agreement with a station licensed to New Jersey, giving it coverage of the communities, warranted a change in the cable carriage of the station in those communities.  The Commission noted that where channel-sharing arrangements change a station’s coverage, those changes can affect its cable carriage rights – positively or negatively.  (Media Bureau decision)
  • At her press conference following the February monthly meeting of the FCC (at which no broadcast matters were considered), Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel stated that she had a “slate” of upcoming broadcast matters for the Commission to consider, but did not identify what those were. She also noted that, because of the current even representation of Democrats and Republicans on the Commission, major broadcast policy issues might not be addressed in the short term.
  • FCC Commissioner Nathan Simington used his maiden speech to highlight his priorities and guiding principles. Among those principles are a belief that Congress—not the FCC—should make telecom policy reforms, a commitment to pursuing a light regulatory touch, and a willingness to listen to all sides of an argument.  He noted that the video marketplace deserves a “fresh look” without offering more details.  (Simington Remarks)
  • There was much news this week about Facebook pulling all news articles from its service in Australia in response to legislation there that would make large digital media platforms pay for any news posted on their pages when that news came from established media companies, including broadcasters. There is already speculation that such a law could be introduced here, including Microsoft’s call for the US government to explore that possibility. (Microsoft blog)

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog