This week in regulation for broadcasters: June 26, 2021 to July 2, 2021

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

  • The FCC reminded broadcasters this week of their obligation to make emergency television news accessible to people with disabilities. Specific reminders include that emergency information provided visually in any newsletter must also be transmitted verbally, and emergency information provided in the audio portion of the schedule must be displayed visually on the screen. In addition, emergency information provided visually (eg, through scans) during non-news broadcasts must be provided orally over a station’s secondary audio program (SAP) channel. Examples of the types of emergencies covered by the rule include pandemics, extreme weather conditions, toxic gas releases, widespread power outages, industrial explosions, civil unrest, and other actionable information arising from such conditions. (Public notice) (Broadcasting Law Blog)
  • Although we are halfway through 2021, the FCC is reopening the comment period in the 2018 quadrennial review process on media ownership. He wishes to update the file in which the first comments were filed in mid-2019. The stake of the body likely to have the greatest impact is the examination of possible modifications to the rules of ownership of the local radio. Among other things, the FCC is requesting updates on how the market has developed since the initial comments were submitted. In particular, parties should address the impact of digital competition, including issues of broadband access and use, and how it should be taken into account in reviews of media ownership rules. We wrote more about the 2018 Quadrennial Review, here. Comments will be due on Monday, August 2, 2021, and response comments will be due on Monday, August 30, 2021. (Federal Register) (Broadcasting Law Blog)
  • June 30 was the effective date for reinstating changes to the FCC’s ownership rules in 2017 after they were confirmed by the Supreme Court. Radio Prometheus The newspaper / broadcast cross-ownership rule, the radio / television cross-ownership rule, and the policy for awarding television co-sales agreements were eliminated, as was the rule that required eight stations to operate independently in one. market remain after the combination of any two TV channels in this market. We wrote in detail about the court’s decision, here. (Public notice)
  • With four months remaining in the 2021 election cycle, remember that the FCC’s political broadcast rules apply even in odd-year elections. Federal candidates (such as those running in this year’s special legislative elections) are entitled to reasonable access and equal opportunity once candidates are legally qualified. National and local applicants are not entitled to reasonable access but are entitled to both equal opportunities and the lowest unit rates. See our article here to learn more about these requirements. The lowest unit fees apply during the political window that opens on July 16 for the next California gubernatorial recall election to be held on September 14. The political window opens on September 3 for the general elections on November 2. See our Guide to political dissemination 2020 for more information on political broadcasting rules and answers to common questions.
  • The FCC has released the final list of qualified bidders to participate in Auction 109, the next AM and FM building permit auction scheduled to begin on July 27, 2021. Of the 158 applicants, 114 were deemed qualified to bid during auction. A building permit in upstate New York that had been offered was withdrawn from the auction. To see the Public notice for more details on the auction. (List of qualified bidders) (List of disqualified bidders)
  • A Federal Register notice last week reminds state emergency communications committees that they have one year – by July 1, 2022 – to upload their EAS plan to the FCC’s alert reporting system. ‘State. State EAS plans should describe national and local EAS operations and contain guidelines that should be followed to activate EAS. (Federal Register)
  • On the legislative front this week, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a media shield bill that seeks to protect journalists from having to disclose the identity of a source unless the information is necessary to prevent an act of terrorism against the United States (and to catch the perpetrator of such an act) or to prevent further imminent violence, significant bodily harm or death. The bill also seeks to prevent journalists’ communications from being secretly obtained by the federal government. Many states have media protection laws in place, but these laws do not affect the actions of the federal government. (PRESS law)

For more information on the next regulatory dates for broadcasters in the rest of July and early August, see our article here. And check out the Broadcasting Law Blog This week we’ll see how dissenting opinions in a recent Supreme Court case might signal a wider debate over defamation law, which could impact broadcasters both in their media coverage and in their review. political advertising to be placed on their stations.

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