This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: January 16, 2021 to January 22, 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.

  • President Joe Biden named Jessica Rosenworcel as Acting Chair of the FCC, where she will set the agenda for the Commission until a permanent Chair is appointed (and she may be a candidate for that permanent position). The Biden administration has not said when it will name a permanent chair.  (News Release)
  • The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument in Federal Communications Commission, et al. v. Prometheus Radio Project, et al., the Court’s review of the FCC’s 2017 media ownership rule changes. The changes at issue include the abolition of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rule and several local TV ownership restrictions.  A decision in the case is expected by early summer.  Audio of the argument and a written transcript are available, here.  In an article, here, we looked at the argument and how the Court’s decision could impact the future review of ownership issues by the Commission.
  • The FCC issued new technical rules regarding the use by TV stations of Distributed Transmission Systems (DTS) (also known as single frequency networks). The new rules expand and clarify the permissible range of “spillover” beyond a station’s protected contour.  DTS gives stations a more uniform signal strength throughout their service area which would be beneficial to new services that can be offered with the ATSC 3.0 (Next Gen TV) transmission standard.  (Report and Order)
  • A Georgia low power FM station settled an FCC investigation by acknowledging it violated the underwriting rules for noncommercial stations and agreeing to pay a $10,000 fine. The station was paid by a for-profit entity to air nine announcements that included prohibited promotional references.  (Order)
  • As we noted in last week’s summary, the Department of Justice declined to act on the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. We took a deeper look, here, at what this means for the future of the consent decrees and the state of play in the music licensing world.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog