This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters:  May 22, 2021 to May 28, 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.

  • New rules went into effect on May 24 that are designed to give broadcast TV stations greater flexibility in the placement of transmitters in Distributed Transmission Systems (DTS, also known as Single Frequency Networks). DTS is seen as important as many stations convert to the ATSC 3.0 transmission standard.  For more on the new rules, see our blog article here.  While these rules have become effective, Microsoft has asked the FCC to reconsider them claiming, among other things, that the new rules harm the ability to deploy white space devices.  The FCC will be soliciting public comment on the Microsoft petition in the near future.  (Petition for Reconsideration)
  • The FCC announced this week that, at its June 17 meeting, it will vote on two petitions asking the FCC to reconsider LPFM technical rules that were issued in April 2020 which, among other things, permitted greater use of directional antenna by LPFM stations. In its draft order on those petitions, the Commission appears ready to reject them which, according to Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel, will help pave the way for a window for the filing new LPFM applications in the near future.  (Draft Order on Reconsideration).  Look for more details on these LPFM issues in an article that should be posted on our blog on Tuesday.
  • At the same June 17 meeting, the Commissioners will vote on updates to its Emergency Alert System (EAS) and Wireless Emergency Alerts rules that it proposed in February, including introducing a new class of alerts called “National Alerts” and updating the process for reviewing and approving state EAS plans and for reporting false alerts. We wrote at length about the draft rules, here.  The Commissioners will also vote on a request for comments on whether certain irrelevant EAS event codes should be deleted, changed, or replaced and whether EAS should support “persistent” display and notification of severe threats to loss of life.  (Draft Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking). The February FCC notice also asked whether emergency alerts can and should be delivered via streaming services The FCC is still accepting reply comments on its inquiry into that issue through June 14.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog