This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: July 30, 2022 to August 5, 2022

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

  • Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC released public notices, available here and here, alerting broadcasters and cable companies that they recently became aware of certain vulnerabilities in EAS encoder/decoder devices which, if not updated to most recent software versions, could allow an intruder to issue unauthorized EAS alerts. Broadcasters are urged to update their EAS devices with the latest software and security patches, change default passwords, make sure that their systems are behind a firewall, and review audit logs regularly to make sure that there has been no unauthorized access.
  • The FCC issued a Public Notice reminding FM broadcasters, LPTV and TV translator operators, and MVPDs, of the September 6, 2022 deadline to submit all remaining invoices to the TV Broadcaster Relocation Fund. This fund is to reimburse these entities for costs incurred because of the television incentive auction. The FCC also asked that entities initiate close-out procedures as soon as possible and reminded parties receiving reimbursement to keep all receipts for ten (10) years as the FCC can audit the claims for reimbursement at any time during that period.
  • The Media Bureau entered into a consent decree, including a $25,000 monetary penalty and a compliance plan, with a Trust which controlled multiple companies that owned radio stations. The FCC faulted the Trust for not seeking permission for almost 10 months for the involuntary transfer of control caused by the death of the controlling shareholder.  The consent decree made clear that a broadcaster is to file a transfer of control application within 30 days of the death of a controlling principal.  The broadcaster also did not seek Special Temporary Authority for a translator that had been silent for seven months.
  • The FCC issued an order selecting the winners in 27 groups of mutually exclusive noncommercial applications from the 2021 window for filing applications for new noncommercial FM stations in the reserved band. An FCC summary of the points earned by each applicant in the 27 groups is available here.  This is the first order applying to the 2021 applications the FCC’s points system for choosing among mutually exclusive applicants.  We wrote on our Broadcast Law Blog more about the point system for choosing between mutually exclusive noncommercial applicants here and here.
  • The FCC’s Media Bureau entered into two consent decrees, here and here, with noncommercial licensees over public file rule violations at their radio stations. The Bureau granted these stations’ renewal applications without any monetary penalties but imposed significant regular reporting requirements so the FCC can monitor their continued compliance.  The decrees also required a training program for the stations’ staffs, and compliance plans to ensure that violations do not occur in the future.  These decisions show how seriously the FCC takes compliance with all requirements for the online public inspection file.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog