April brings with it a milestone – as it is the end of the first quarter since all radio stations have had to have their online public inspection file “live” so that anyone, anywhere, can view a station’s compliance with rules that previously could only be judged by going to the station and reviewing the paper public file. April 10, in particular, is important, as it is when Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, summarizing the most important issues facing the community which the broadcaster serves and the programs that the broadcaster aired to address those issues, must be in the online public file for all full-power radio and TV stations. We wrote about the importance of these sometimes overlooked documents here, as these are the only FCC-mandated documents that reflect how a station has served the needs and interests of its community. We have also noted that, in the past license renewal cycle, missing Quarterly Issues Programs lists were the source of the most fines issued to broadcasters. Now that compliance can be judged at any time by the FCC, their importance is only magnified. So be sure that you get these documents into your online public file by April 10.
EEO Public Inspection File Reports, summarizing a station’s employment record for the prior year, are also to be uploaded to a station’s online public file. For radio and TV stations in Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas, these reports need to be completed and included in the public file by April 1 by all stations that are part of employment units with 5 or more full-time (30 hours per week) employees. In addition, radio stations in employment units with 11 or more full-time employees in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and TV stations in Texas with 5 or more full-time employees, also need to file EEO Mid-Term Reports, commonly referred to as FCC Form 397 applications. While the FCC is considering the abolition of the Mid-Term Report (see our article here), the obligation is still in place so, for now, stations must comply.
TV stations also must file with the FCC, by April 10, their Children’s Television Reports, detailing the amount of educational and informational programming that they have broadcast on each of their subchannels. Here, again, there are proposals at the FCC for reform of this requirement (see our post here), but as no action has yet been taken, this report must still be filed. In addition, TV stations must include in their public file documentation showing that they complied with the advertising limits in children’s television programming.
April also brings various filing deadlines for various groups of stations. TV stations changing channels as a result of the incentive auction must file a Transition Progress Report by April 10. This is filed on FCC Form 2100 – Schedule 387 (see our article here).
Low Power TV stations and TV translators displaced by the repacking of TV stations following the incentive auction can file for “displacement channels” (channels that are in the new core TV band and not blocked by full-power stations) in a window that opens on April 10 and runs through May 15. See our article here about that window.
Radio stations involved in the recent translator filing windows have some important dates in April. April 18 through May 9 are the dates for the window for long-form applications by AM stations that filed applications for FM translators in the second FCC window that was open late last year for Class A and B AM stations to seek FM translators (see our article here). Applications that were not found to be singletons in that auction (in other words, those applications that did conflict with other applications filed during the window) should be looking for the announcement in the near term by the FCC of a filing window for amendments to applications to resolve their mutual exclusivity.
Responses to the FCC’s latest EEO audit are due by April 12. See our article here about that audit, which notes that responses are to be posted in a station’s online public file, not filed directly with the FCC.
A number of reply comments in pending FCC proceedings are due in April. Reply comments in the FCC proceeding to abolish the filing requirements for certain FCC contracts are due by April 2 (see our summary of the FCC proposals here). Reply Comments on the FCC’s inquiry into the national cap on TV ownership are due April 18 (see our summary here). And, finally, comments on the FCC’s proposals for an incubator program are due April 9 (see our summary here).
Another busy month in regulation for broadcasters seems to be in store. Always remember to check with your counsel for other dates that we may have missed here that are important to your station.
It appears that the FCC is attempting to clear its backlog of pending translator applications – and moving quickly to do so. On Friday, it released a Public Notice announcing a new auction beginning on May 15 for the small set of mutually exclusive applications left from last year’s window for the filing of FM translator applications by Class C and D AM stations, and setting the rules and procedures for that auction. While only 26 applications (in 12 groups of mutually exclusive applications – see the list in this Excel file) are involved in the auction, it shows that the FCC is trying to rapidly clear its decks of all remaining translator applications. Already on the FCC’s schedule, as we wrote here, is an auction of mutually exclusive translators left over from its 2003 FM translator window (for the rules adopted for that auction, see the FCC notice here). The FCC has also scheduled the filing of long-form applications for “singleton” applications (ones that are predicted to not cause interference to any other translator application or any existing station) from the window opened late last year for Class A and B AM stations to file for FM translators (see our post here on the opening of the long-form filing window for the translator applications), and long-form applications for applicants who were able to work out mutually exclusive situations in the first window so that they did not need to go to auction (see our post here). Still to be announced for applicants in that Class A and B window is the settlement period for applications that are mutually with other applications. Expect that announcement soon.
In September 2017, the FCC adopted new rules making AM proofs of performance easier to conduct for many stations. We summarized the changes here, and wrote about the FCC’s adoption of these changes here. The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice announcing that these rules have completed the review process under the Paperwork Reduction Act, and are now effective. Thus, stations can now take advantage of the simplified proofing options provided under these new rules.
The Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet has scheduled a next month on the Hawai’i False Missile Alert. Witnesses include officials from the FCC, FEMA, PACCOM, Hawai’i Emergency Management and the Hawai’i Association of Broadcasters. The hearing, scheduled for April 5, at 10 AM HST, will be available on the Senate Commerce Committee’s website, https://www.commerce.senate.gov/
More information is available on the Subcommittee’s website at:
The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice announcing a filing window from April 18 through May 9 for “long-form” applications for new translators that were filed in the January 2018 window for Class A and B AM stations to seek new FM translators to rebroadcast their stations. The Public Notice also sets out the procedures for filing in this window. The window is for the filing of a complete Form 349 applications by applicants who were deemed to be “singletons,” i.e. their applications are not predicted to cause interference to any other translator applicant. The list of singletons is here. The long-form application requires more certifications and technical information than that which was submitted during the initial filing window.
After the long-form application is submitted to the FCC, the application will be published in an FCC public notice of broadcast applications. Interested parties will have 15 days from that publication date to comment or object. If no comments are filed, and no other issues arise, the FCC’s Audio Division is known for its speed in processing translator applications so that grants might be expected for many of the applications within 60 days of the end of the window.
Not specifically addressed is when the FCC will open a settlement window to resolve interference between applications that were not found to be singletons. At some point in the future, the FCC will allow AMs that filed applications for translators that are predicted to cause interference to other translator proposals to reach a settlement or make minor technical changes to resolve their interference issues. Until that window is open, however, mutually exclusive applicants are prohibited from communicating with each other due to the prohibited communications rules that apply during broadcast auctions – which these applications will end up in if their mutual exclusivity is not resolved during the settlement window.
In any event, it appears that a number of AM stations – more than 600 according to today’s announcement — will soon be able to start service with their new FM translator stations. If processing in the last window for Class C and D AM stations is any indication, we should see a number of grants of new translators before summer officially starts.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Nevada Broadcasters Foundation – News Release
March 14, 2018
GARY AND DEBBIE ACKERMAN MAKE GENEROUS DONATION
TO THE NEVADA BROADCASTERS FOUNDATION’S
TONY AND LINDA BONNICI BROADCASTING SCHOLARSHIP FUND
Las Vegas-2017 marked a memorable year for Tony and Linda Bonnici. Together since high school, the couple celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and celebrated their 60th birthdays.
Gary and Debbie Ackerman, owners of Gaudin Motor Company have been Tony and Linda Bonnici’s close friends for nearly as long as the newlywed Michiganders settled in Las Vegas in 1977. Wanting to do something to help commemorate the festive year the Bonnici’s were celebrating, Gary and Debbie contemplated many wonderful gift ideas before settling on the one thing that is close and dear to couple’s hearts.
The Ackerman’s inquired about the cost for one student’s tuition for four years. Before you know it, Tony and Linda were presented a check on behalf of their scholarship fund for $60,000, “We wanted to do something extra special in recognition of Tony and Linda’s 60th birthdays” the Ackerman’s explained and that they did. Their generous donation is enough money to pay for three student’s tuition for all four-college years.
The Bonnici’s responded…”Our very dear friends, Debbie & Gary Ackerman, gave a very generous donation to the Broadcasting Scholarship Fund. They are two of the kindest people we know and there are no words big enough to thank them for their thoughtfulness. Here is a quote that reminds us of them and is so appropriate to our mission in helping students.” KINDNESS IN WORDS CREATES CONFIDENCE-KINDNESS IN THINKING CREATES PROFOUNDNESS-KINDNESS IN GIVING CREATES LOVE ~Lao Tzu
“With Nevada Broadcasters Foundation’s Tony and Linda Bonnici Broadcasting Scholarship Fund now into its seventh year of awarding tuition funding, I am proud to boast that to date, we have awarded 113 scholarships to talented and dedicated students of Broadcasting, attending Nevada’s Colleges and Universities” says Executive Director Eric Bonnici.
About Nevada Broadcasters Foundation
The mission of the Nevada Broadcasters Foundation and the Tony & Linda Bonnici Broadcasting Scholarship Fund is simple: to find passionate broadcasting and journalism students in Nevada and make it easier for them to pursue their dreams. To do this, each year the Foundation awards one-year up to full tuition scholarships to the next generation of Nevada’s broadcasters. What started as an idea by Tony and Linda has become the most exciting, forward-thinking broadcast scholarship in the nation. What makes this scholarship so unique is that it’s truly a scholarship by broadcasters for broadcasters. We hope you will encourage your children, friends and peers to apply for the “Broadcasters’ Scholarship” this year. Together, with your help we will take this foundation to new heights.
Like Facebook: Tony & Linda Bonnici Broadcasting Scholarship Fund @BroadcastingScholarships
Interviews are available upon request.
Courtesy of InsideRadio.com
Radio stations hit by the upcoming repack of television spectrum are one step closer to securing federal dollars to offset their costs related to the process. The House unanimously approved a bill (H.R. 4986) Tuesday that would create the FM Broadcast Station Relocation Fund. The pool of money could be tapped by owners of FMs and FM translators to help stations build back-up facilities or cover lost advertising revenue when forced to go dark while engineers are working on a co-located TV antenna.
Click HERE for full article
For Immediate Release
CHAIRMAN PAI UNVEILS $954 MILLION PLAN TO RESTORE AND EXPAND NETWORKS IN PUERTO RICO AND U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund (Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund) and
Connect USVI Fund Would Improve Connectivity for Resident
WASHINGTON, March 6, 2018—Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai today proposed to direct approximately $954 million toward restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands—networks that were damaged and destroyed during the 2017 hurricane season.
Specifically, he proposed to create a $750 million Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund (Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund) and a $204 million Connect USVI Fund. Each of these funds would provide additional short-term assistance for restoring communications networks in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and longer-term support for expanding broadband access throughout the islands.
“The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms. That means the FCC’s work is far from over,” said Chairman Pai. “After my previous visit to Puerto Rico, I publicly committed to ‘thinking creatively and doing proactively to help restore networks on the island.’ The plan I’ve proposed today would deliver on that commitment and extend that vision even further. The plan calls for the FCC to devote almost $1 billion in funding both to the short-term, efficient restoration of service and the long-term improvement and expansion of broadband throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With the 2018 hurricane season less than three months away, we need to take bold and decisive action. I hope that my fellow commissioners will join me in supporting the creation of the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund.”
The plan includes:
The plan would be funded by providing approximately $256 million in new funds as well as repurposing universal service support currently directed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Chairman Pai will travel to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands from March 7-10. He will lead a team to review recovery efforts, evaluate lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.
The Commission has taken numerous actions to promote public safety and connectivity in the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes. In addition to providing public information on network outage conditions and sending staff to monitor and aid recovery efforts, the Commission offered the territories nearly $77 million in advanced universal service funding to help recovery, accelerated the post-incentive auction transition to support Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands broadcasters, granted temporary waivers of Lifeline’s recertification rules, expedited approval of experimental licenses for Alphabet’s Project Loon to provide Internet access to residents, approved targeted and flexible E-Rate support to help restore connectivity of schools and libraries, and granted more than 200 waivers and requests for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to help re-establish communications in hurricane-affected areas.
Tina Pelkey, (202) 418-0536
Office of Chairman Ajit Pai: (202) 418-2000
This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC, 515 F.2d 385 (D.C. Cir. 1974).
Nevada Broadcasters Association President Mitch Fox and Vice President Eric Bonnici accompanied a group of Nevada broadcasters to Washington DC to advocate on behalf of our industry on such issues as the Broadcast Relocation Fund, the Radio Performance Tax, Retransmission Consent and the Microsoft Spectrum Grab. The group met with House Members Dina Titus and Mark Amodei, U.S. Senators Dean Heller and Catherine Cortez Masto and staff from the offices of House Members Ruben Kihuen and Jacky Rosen. Former Congressman Jon Porter provided the group with a special tour of the U.S. Capitol.
The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice announcing a filing window from March 14 to March 28 for “long-form” applications for new translators that were filed in last summer’s window for Class C and D AM stations to seek new FM translators to rebroadcast their stations. The Public Notice also sets the procedures for filing in this window. The window is for the filing of complete Form 349 applications by applicants who were deemed mutually exclusive in a notice released by the Commission last year (see our article here) but who were able to work out a settlement or technical solution to that mutual exclusivity in the window at the end of last year for resolving such conflicts. By resolving those situations of potential interference with other applicants, these applications can now be granted. The list of applicants who are invited to file the long-form application is here (in an Excel format). The long-form application requires more certifications and more specific technical information than that which was submitted during the initial filing window. It also allows for minor amendments to applications as long as they do not create any new conflicts.
After the long-form application is submitted to the FCC, the application will be published in an FCC public notice of broadcast applications. Interested parties will have 15 days from that publication date to comment or object. If no comments are filed, and no other issues arise, the FCC’s Audio Division is known for its speed in processing translator applications so that grants might be expected for many of the applications late within a month or two of the filing deadline.
Coming later this year will be a list of “singletons” (applications not predicted to create interference to any other application) in the second translator window for Class A and B AM stations (see our article here). A settlement window for applicants in that window who are mutually exclusive will also be announced at some later date. For applications in either of these windows who are not able to work out ways to resolve conflicts, there will eventually be an auction between mutually exclusive applicants. But, the majority of the applications on yesterday’s list will soon be new translators, and we are also bound to see hundreds more from the second window. So watch for these FM translators rebroadcasting an AM near you soon.