This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: May 21, 2022 to May 27, 2022

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.

  • The FCC has requested comments on a proposal for a new Content Vendor Diversity Report. A public interest group has asked the Commission to require this report to gather information on the race and ethnicity of employees and senior leadership of vendors of video content to both traditional media and streaming services.  The requested comments are meant to inform the FCC as to whether it should move forward to review this proposal.  A formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking would be necessary before any final rules are adopted.  Comments are due July 22, with replies due August 22. (Request for Comments)
  • In a major First Amendment decision, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction prohibiting the State of Florida from enforcing its laws that would have limited social media platforms from various forms of content moderation. The law had provisions including forbidding the “deplatforming” of any candidate for public office, limiting the platforms’ ability to favor or disfavor content about any candidate, restricting any actions favoring or disfavoring content from any “journalistic enterprise,” and requiring the release of a “thorough rational” for every content moderation decision made by the platforms.  The Court determined that, as private companies, these platforms could make such decisions without government intervention, and the state cannot penalize them for the content moderation decisions that they make. (Opinion of the Court)
  • The FCC issued fines to two companies whose broadcast stations were silent for extended periods without requesting FCC approval. In one case, a translator operator was fined $4000 for being silent for over 11 months without requesting FCC approval, and for failing to notify the FCC that the translator has changed its primary station.  This fine was reduced from a proposed fine of $8000 upon the licensee’s showing of economic hardship (Forfeiture Order).  In another case, the Media Bureau fined a broadcaster $17,500 for the silence of an AM station and associated translator that was only brought to the FCC’s attention by informal objections to the licensee’s license renewal application.  The fine also covered the failure to report the silence in connection with the renewal application (where the licensee had certified that the station had not been silent for more than 30 days) and for public file violations (Forfeiture Order)
  • The Media Bureau denied a request for an extension of the deadline for comments on the tests of GeoBroadcast Solutions system of using FM boosters to originate limited amounts of programming different from that provided by their primary stations. We wrote about this request for comments on our Broadcast Law Blog, here.  The Bureau denied the extension request filed by the NAB and NPR which had asked for an additional two weeks to review the technical showings.  The Bureau said that extensions are not routinely granted, and no good cause had been shown for an extension in this case (Order).  The comment date remains June 6 with replies due June 21.
  • The FCC’s Office of Managing Director announced that the “legacy CORES” database will be decommissioned on July 15. A new system, CORES2 has been active since 2016.  To manage their FCC Registration Numbers (FRNs) needed for many FCC filings, including the resetting of passwords, any FCC user who has not registered in the new CORES2 system should do so to avoid delays in future FCC filings (Public Notice).
  • In allocations proposals, the FCC proposed substituting channel 22 for channel 9 at Orono, Maine for WMEB-TV (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking). The FCC also allocated a new FM channel, 263A, to Hamilton, Texas, which will be available in a future FM auction (Report and Order).

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog