Commlaw - Mass Media

Following the Broadcasting Industry

Thursday, March 22, 2007

IBOC HD Radio Decision Finally Adopted by FCC

The FCC today adopted a decision on digital radio that does the following:

(1) HD operation will now be allowed without prior authority, even for dual antenna operations. Thus, no further need to apply for STAs for dual antenna operations.

(2) Nighttime AM HD operations are now authorized.

(3) HD operations by FM translators, FM boosters, and LPFMs are now authorized.

(4) The main channel of HD operations must simulcast the analog programming.

(5) HD2 and HD3 operations may proceed without prior authority. Thus, no need to apply for experimental authority for HD2 and HD3 operations.

(6) Broadcasters may lease HD2 and HD3 channels to third parties.

(7) There is no mandatory conversion schedule for HD broadcasting. Also, no exclusive digital only operations will be authorized at this time.

(8) The issue of whether there should be additional content control requirements (i.e. restrictions on the ability of receivers to archive programming) is deferred.

(9) The FCC is seeking further comment upon the amount of subscription services that may be run, and whether there should be additional public interest channels on the digital channels.

Once the Commission releases the Report and Order on this decision, more will be known about the nuances. For now, however, it is encouraging to see that AM HD nighttime broadcasting is authorized, that translators and LPFMs can broadcast an HD signal, and that the time-consuming requirements to file for STAs and for experimental authority for some HD broadcasting has been eliminated.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

2007 Broadcast Station Local Public File Checklists

The Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau and its Regional and Field Offices has shown no let-up in enforcing the Commission's local public file rules. In an effort to assist stations in compliance with the local public file rule, we have created one page local public file checklists for commercial broadcast radio and TV stations for each of the 50 states, territories and the District of Columbia. These one page local public file checklists may be accessed by clicking on this link: 2007 One Page Broadcast Station Local Public File Checklists.

Once each quarter, on January 10th, April 10th, July 10th and October 10th, stations are required to place into their public file a listing of the most significant issues in their community and a listing of the programs that were broadcast addressing these issues. In addition, at various times, often based upon the state in which a station is licensed, broadcast stations are required to place in the local public file EEO material, copies of ownership reports, copies of authorizations, materials required by the political broadcasting and children's television rules, and a variety of other materials. Conversely, there are many materials that are only needed to be kept in the local public file for a set amount of time after which those materials should be removed.

In order to keep your station's local public file up to date, it is recommended that one of your staff be assigned to periodically go through the station's public file using the 2007 One Page Broadcast Station Local Public File Checklists.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

NTIA Creates New $1.5 Billion Consumer Equipment Market

The National Telecommunication and Information Administration of the US Department of Commerce (NTIA) on March 13 created a new $1.5 billion dollar market for consumer settop equipment designed to convert digital television signals to analog signals. Pursuant to the Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 Congress will require all television broadcast stations to cease operating on the analog channels they currently use and broadcast only digital signals. Read more...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

AMs on FM Translators

While the FCC is considering a petition for rulemaking filed last summer by the NAB to allow AM stations to be carried on FM translators, the FCC has gone ahead and granted two AM stations special temporary authority to proceed now with rebroadcasting their stations on FM translators. The stations are WRHI(AM) and WGNS(AM), and the FCC letters granting the STAs can be read by clicking on the station call letters. Whether these STA grants will unleash a torrent of similar requests for waivers to the FCC is unknown but is a possibility.