This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: September 18, 2021 to September 24, 2021

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

  • At the last minute, the deadline for broadcasters to pay their annual regulatory fees was extended to Monday, September 27, 2021 at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. The deadline had been Friday, September 24.  Procrastinators need to file by the new date to avoid the 25% penalty for late-filed fees.  (Public Notice) (Fee Filer Website)
  • The FCC opened a rulemaking to consider whether unlicensed spectrum users, like large technology companies, should be required to pay annual regulatory fees. It has been argued that these companies receive benefits from FCC regulation and thus should pay fees that offset the FCC’s costs of operation, reducing the fees paid by regulated entities, including broadcasters. Commenters are invited to comment on whether the FCC has the authority to impose such fees and, if so, how such fees should be assessed.  Comments are due by October 21 and reply comments are due by November 5.  (Federal Register)
  • Both the Audio and Video Divisions of the FCC continued to penalize broadcasters for late uploads to their online public inspection files discovered during the license renewal process. One Class A TV station was issued an admonition for failing to timely upload 11 Quarterly Issues Programs Lists to its public file (all uploads were less than a month late).  Several other TV stations also received admonitions (admonitions can be considered in assessing penalties for future violations) for violations discovered by the FCC’s staff in their review of stations’ public files.  Among the actions taken against radio stations was a consent decree with a Kentucky AM station requiring a $4500 monetary penalty plus the requirement for a compliance plan imposing significant paperwork requirements.  The station had not submitted an EEO Program Report with its renewal application and had not uploaded to its public file quarterly issues programs lists during the renewal term.
  • The FCC issued rules for Auction 111, which is open to a limited group of applicants for low power TV and TV translator stations. The applicants who can participate in the auction submitted mutually exclusive applications either during a 2009 filing window for new LPTV stations or in a 2018 window for stations displaced by the Incentive Auction.  Short-form applications are due between November 1 and November 9, 2021 and bidding begins February 23, 2022.  (Public Notice) (Eligible Applicant List)
  • We wrote on our Broadcast Law Blog about the effort to bring back the old FCC Form 395-B which required broadcasters to report on the racial and gender make-up of their workforce in various job categories. Comments on the FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to revive this form are due by September 30 and reply comments are due by November 1.  (Broadcast Law Blog)
  • Fans of copyright law will enjoy reading our look at the federal court decisions that led to the termination of operations by streaming company Locast which, before the court orders, had been transmitting broadcast TV stations’ programming on the internet without the permission of the stations. (Broadcast Law Blog)

For next week, keep an eye on the Broadcast Law Blog for our monthly update on important broadcast regulatory dates and deadlines coming in October. Also, don’t forget that Monday, September 27, is the deadline for broadcasters to file ETRS Form Three.  This form details each station’s participation in the August 11 national EAS test, including whether the station received the test and relayed it successfully.  We wrote about the form, here.

Courtesy Broadcast Law Blog