This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: November 6, 2021 to November 12, 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.

  • The Senate Commerce Committee announced this week that it will hold a hearing to consider FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel for another five-year term at the agency. Fellow Democratic Commissioner-nominee Gigi Sohn’s confirmation will not appear at the hearing, suggesting to some that her nomination is likely to have more problems being confirmed. Tune in to the livestream at at 10 a.m. Eastern on November 17 to watch the Rosenworcel hearing. If Chairman Rosenworcel receives a majority vote of the committee members, her nomination will move to the full Senate for final approval. (Nominations Hearing Notice). See the article on our Broadcast Law Blog on the issues for broadcasters that the Commission will likely consider when it is back at full strength (Article).
  • The FCC’s filing window for applications for new noncommercial FM stations closed on Tuesday, November 9, with over 1000 applications having been filed. The FCC released a Public Notice announcing the closing of the window and stating that no amendments to applications filed in the window will be permitted until after November 29 at 6 p.m. Eastern. The FCC staff will take that time to evaluate the submitted applications and identify which applications are mutually exclusive with other applications that were filed in the window. More information explaining the procedures for filing settlement agreements and technical amendments to resolve conflicts between applications will be forthcoming. (Public Notice)
  • An AM radio tower owner entered into a consent decree and was fined $1,400 for its failure to properly maintain its tower lights and to report a change in the ownership of the tower. The fine would likely have been higher but the owner made a financial showing to the FCC that it could not afford to pay more. Under the FCC’s rules, owners of FCC-registered lighted antenna structures must confirm at least once every 24 hours that the tower’s lights are functioning properly or connect the lighting system to an alarm that notifies the owner in the event of a malfunction. If ownership of a registered tower is changed, the FCC must be notified of that change. In this case, under the consent decree, the tower owner must appoint a compliance officer, follow a compliance plan, and file compliance reports for three years in addition to paying the fine. (Consent Decree)
  • The FCC continued to enter into consent decrees with broadcasters for violations of the FCC’s requirements for the prompt upload of political advertising orders to a station’s online public inspection file, releasing a number of such decrees this week (Sample Consent Decree). David Oxenford will be conducting a webinar on Thursday, November 18, with members of the FCC’s Political Broadcasting Office to remind broadcasters of the rules in preparation for the expected rush of political advertising in connection with 2022 elections. Check with your state broadcast association to see if this webinar is available to stations in your state.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog