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

  • The FCC’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau announced that comments responding to the Bureau’s proposed final deadlines for the submission of reimbursement claims by earth station operators affected by the C-band transition are due by November 8, 2023.  As we reported in last week’s update, the Bureau has proposed the following deadlines for the submission of C-band transition reimbursement claims:
    • February 5, 2024 – Deadline for submission of all reimbursement claims for costs incurred and paid by claimants as of December 31, 2023, including all lump sum election claims by incumbent earth station operations.
    • September 30, 2024 – Deadline for submission of all reimbursement claims for costs incurred and paid by claimants after December 31, 2023, which must be submitted on a rolling basis within 30 days of being incurred.
  • The FCC’s Media Bureau granted an FM translator’s minor modification application to relocate to a new transmitter site and to specify a new primary station.  The Bureau rejected an objection arguing that the move violated a condition on all translator licenses that construction pursuant to a construction permit not be with “temporary” facilities and that translators not excessively “hop” over significant distances (using a series of rapid minor changes to move a station a significant distance – a move that should wait for a major change window where the application could be subject to competing applications).  The translator’s licensee had recently purchased the translator and filed for Special Temporary Authority to cease operations while it prepared for the site relocation.  The licensee demonstrated through documentation (included dated photos, emails, invoices, and a sworn declaration of its consulting engineer) that the translator’s initial facilities had been fully constructed for permanent operations and the translator could have operated from those facilities for the foreseeable future.  As the licensee had a legitimate business purpose for the move (so that it could rebroadcast the new primary station), the Bureau found that the construction was not temporary construction prohibited by the FCC’s policies.  The policy against temporary construction instead focuses on the use of short-term facilities (like a tower on a flatbed truck that operates for only a matter of days, with no long-term commitment to use the site from which the operation is commenced), usually to meet the construction deadlines or where there are rapid sequential moves to try to move the station over a significant distance.  This policy has also been applied to LPTV stations. For more on these policies and the harms that they seek to prevent, see our Broadcast Law Blog articles here and here. 
  • The FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau announced the agenda for its upcoming October 30 roundtable on the cybersecurity of the nation’s public alert and warning systems.  As we noted in last week’s update, the roundtable will include a discussion among public and private sector representatives to build upon the FCC’s October 2022 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – which proposes measures to enhance cybersecurity and operational readiness of the Wireless Emergency Alerts and the Emergency Alert System, including mandatory cybersecurity programs at all broadcast stations as well as regular reports to the FCC by broadcasters on their cybersecurity programs.  The event will include remarks by FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel and representatives of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, which is co-hosting the event.  Registration is free and open to the public.  Interested participants may register here for the event.
  • The FCC’s Media Bureau issued an Order to Pay or to Show Cause to the licensee of  a Louisiana AM and FM combination, proposing to revoke the stations’ licenses unless, within 60 days, the licensee pays delinquent regulatory fees and interest, administrative costs, and penalties.  According to the Order, the FCC’s records indicate that the stations currently have unpaid regulatory fee debt for the AM Station totaling $12,098.17 (debts due from fiscal years 2002, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2022) and, for the FM station, $8,906.97 from 2002, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, and 2022. 
  • On our Broadcast Law Blog, we published our look ahead to the regulatory dates of interest to broadcasters in November and early December.

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