This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: June 19, 2021 to June 25, 2021

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

  • Congressmen Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Darrell Issa (R-CA) introduced the American Music Fairness Act which would impose a royalty payable to SoundExchange on over-the-air broadcasts by radio stations. The money collected would be paid to performing artists and record labels This new royalty would be in addition to the royalties paid by radio stations to composers and publishing companies through ASCAP, BMI, SESAC and GMR. While the proposal would impose relatively low flat fees on small commercial and noncommercial stations, those reduced fees disappear if the station has revenues of more than $1.5 million or if it is co-owned with stations with revenues of $10 million or more.  Other rates would be set by the Copyright Royalty Board. (Press Release)  The NAB has already stated its opposition to the bill, but the introduction of the bill is bound to spur debate on this issue.  Watch for more details about this legislative proposal in our Broadcast Law Blog this week.
  • The FCC’s International Bureau released its most recent list of earth stations operating in the C-Band. The updated list (see a PDF version here and an Excel version here) reflects a variety of changes to earth station registrations, including address or coordinate corrections, registration/licensee name changes due to sales or other transfers, and the removal of earth stations that were reportedly inactive and unresponsive to FCC inquiries about their status.  The list also identifies earth stations for which there is an accepted election for a lump sum payment to resolve interference issues that will be created by the clearing of parts of the C Band so that it can be used for wireless communications.  There is no indication when those lump sum payments will be made.  Review the list to make sure that any earth station that you operate is included and that all of the details of its operations are correct.  (Public Notice)
  • The Media Bureau reminded broadcast licensees that Biennial Ownership Reports are due again this year. Between October 1 and December 1, stations must file a biennial ownership report that details who owns, controls, and operates their broadcast station or stations.  (Public Notice)
  • In advance of the July 13 analog transmission cutoff for low power TV and translator stations, the FCC granted a request by the State of Alaska that allows the state to continue operating 15 analog translators for a limited time—until January 10, 2022. The state made a showing that conditions unique to Alaska make it extremely challenging to construct digital facilities and that people would lose over-the-air broadcast TV if the state did not receive an extension.  All other LPTV and TV translator stations still operating in analog must be prepared to end their transmissions July 13, the deadline for the transition of all remaining analog TV stations to digital.  More details on the circumstances of the Alaska request and extension are in the Order granting the request.
  • The FCC released the items to be considered at its regular monthly open meeting to be held on July 13. Just one broadcast item made it on the agenda – a proposal to clean up a few technical rules that apply to radio stations.  If adopted, the public will have the opportunity to submit comments on proposed changes to certain radio rules that the FCC considers outdated, redundant, or unnecessary.  Read the draft notice to see if any of the proposals affect your operations.  (Draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking)

Watch the Broadcast Law Blog early next week for our monthly round-up of important regulatory dates and deadlines for broadcasters in the coming weeks.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog