Category Archives: April 2017

WMXG Flips to Classic Country

AMC Partners Escanaba, LLC (Armada Media/Radio Results Network) has switched the format of WMXG-FM (Stephenson) to classic country.  The change was effective on April 3.

The station is now operating under the “The Maverick” moniker and is playing “the biggest country songs and artists from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.”

WMXG  was recently acquired by AMC Partners from Escanaba License Corporation.  An application for the transfer was filed on March 21 and is pending FCC approval.  AMC Partners has been running the station under a LMA and up until the format flip, had been simulcasting news/talk WCHT-AM.

WOOD-TV Signs Agreement For Downtown Studio

WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) has announced that it has entered into a one-of-a-kind partnership with the Grand Rapids Art Museum to form the GRAM WOOD TV Media Arts Center.

The station has reached a long-term agreement with GRAM for a permanent studio location overlooking Rosa Parks Circle in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids.

Every year during ArtPrize, WOOD TV8 broadcasts almost 150 hours from the “Today Show”-type studio. Because of the new agreement, it will be possible to broadcast year-round.

WOOD TV8’s main studio will remain in Heritage Hill, just east of the downtown area.

GRAM WOOD TV Media Arts Center is tied to a comprehensive plan that will be announced in late April to expand local engagement across West Michigan. Details will be announced at a later date.

FCC to Change Noncommercial Ownership Form

Commission to eliminate need for social security numbers from board members of noncommercial licensees for Biennial Ownership Report.

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP
www.broadcastlawblog.com

Last week, we wrote about two of the three broadcast items to be considered at the FCC meeting on April 20. We wrote here about the draft order to restore the UHF discount and here about the relaxation of the restrictions on fund-raising for third parties by noncommercial stations. The third item, also related to noncommercial licensees, is the resolution of the long-simmering dispute about whether or not to require that those individuals with attributable interests in noncommercial broadcast stations – officers and board members – to provide their Social Security Numbers or other personal information to the FCC to obtain an FCC Registration Number – an FRN. The draft order released last week indicates that the FCC will eliminate that requirement at its April 20 meeting.

The obligation to obtain an FRN was adopted so that the FCC could comprehensively track the ownership of broadcast stations and determine the interests of individual parties across the broadcast media nationwide. This was principally done for purposes of assessing the diversity of ownership of the media – including by minorities and women. By making each attributable owner get their own FRN, interests across the broadcast media landscape could be tracked with greater precision. However, objections were raised when the FCC proposed to apply this obligation to noncommercial broadcasters, requiring that officers and board members provide their Social Security Number or other personal information to obtain an FRN. Despite these objections, the previous Commission ordered noncommercial broadcasters to provide this information, going so far as to suggest that attributable interest holders who did not provide the information necessary to obtain an FRN could be sanctioned. See our articles here and here. The current FCC under Chairman Pai rescinded the decision of the Media Bureau upholding the obligation (see our post here) – leading to the draft order to be considered at the April 20 meeting.

Noncommercial broadcasters have argued that this information is not as necessary as for commercial broadcasters in assessing diversity, as noncommercial stations don’t have owners in the traditional sense of the word. Their officers and board members don’t have an economic interest in the business success of the station. In fact, those with attributable interests in noncommercial stations often don’t become officers or directors because they are interested in radio or television at all, but instead because they are interested in a noncommercial entity’s broader purpose. For instance, a member of the board of a state university may become a board member because of his or her interest in some academic department, or because of the athletic teams at the university and not even know when appointed to the board that among the university’s holdings is a broadcast station. Some board members may become members by being an elected official – e.g. state governors are often ex-officio members of state university boards. The fear is that, by requiring that these individuals provide personally sensitive information, they may be discouraged from participating in these nonprofit endeavors. A majority of the current Commission appears to have accepted that reasoning and has now teed up the concept of allowing noncommercial stations to obtain Special Use FRNs (“SUFRN”) for these individuals – which will not require personally identifiable information or Social Security Numbers.

The FCC did note, however, that these individuals need to use the same SUFRN for any broadcast interests that they may have. So if an individual sits on the board of multiple broadcast licensees (e.g. the governor of a state who may be on the board of several state universities that are the licensee of broadcast stations), that individual must provide the same SUFRN to each licensee. Also, if an attributable party has an interest in a commercial broadcast station and obtains an FRN in connection with the ownership report of that station, they need to use that FRN on the ownership report of the noncommercial licensee. Noncommercial licensees thus will still need to survey their officers and board members to make sure that they don’t have other broadcast interests and to coordinate with other licensees in state systems to make sure that the same SUFRN is used.

Biennial ownership reports for all stations, commercial and noncommercial, are due on December 1 of this year, reporting on the ownership of the licensee as of October 1. While this order, if adopted on April 20, will make information collection easier for noncommercial licensees, they should still start planning their information collection process for getting information about the broadcast interests of board members in time for the December 1 deadline.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline.  Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your membership.

Another Performance Royalty Bill Introduced

Congressman Darrel Issa (R-CA) has once again introduced performance royalty legislation that would require radio stations to pay fees to the record labels to play their songs. In response, the NAB issued the following statement:

“NAB has significant concerns with this legislation that would upend the music licensing framework that currently enables broadcasters to serve local communities across the country and would result in less music being played on the radio to the detriment of listeners and artists. NAB thanks the almost 200 Members of Congress who support the Local Radio Freedom Act and recognize the tremendous benefits of free, promotional airplay for musicians and labels.”

In Michigan, Congressmen Fred Upton (R-6), Tim Walberg (R-7), Paul Mitchell (R-10) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-12) cosponsored the Local Radio Freedom Act.

MAB Washington Counsel David Oxenford discusses both, this most recent royalty bill and an older proposal, here.

Snyder Signs Bill to Protect Proprietary Info in Bidding

Governor Rick Snyder

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has signed legislation sponsored by Senator Rick Jones (R-24), to ensure that all companies compete on an equal playing field when bidding for a public contract with the State of Michigan.

Senate Bill 69, now Public Act 21 of 2017, exempts a bid, quote, or proposal involved in a procurement process from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), until the final notification is received that the contract has been awarded.

“Before this change, vendors could unfairly use FOIA to find out how much money the state can spend on a particular project and also look at bids from their competitors before a final decision has been made,” said Senator Jones. The new act also exempts trade secrets and financial or proprietary information from FOIA. Jones said that many businesses are refusing to participate in the procurement process in Michigan because they fear that their trade secrets or financial information will be compromised.

Details & Materials Available for Statewide Tornado Drill/EAS Test

Graphic 005In cooperation with the Michigan State Police, Emergency Management and Homeland Security Division, and with the endorsement of the MAB Board of Directors, the National Weather Service will conduct a test with the Tornado Warning EAS Code at 1:00pm Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 19, 2017 as part of Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. The MAB received a waiver from the FCC to use the actual EAS Tornado Warning Code (“TOR”) for this statewide test.

This test will be in conjunction with a statewide tornado drill. In addition to the EAS activation, your area may experience a test of tornado sirens which may alarm some members of the public. Your assistance in informing the public before the test is requested.

The MAB Board of Directors encourages all broadcasters and cable operators to participate. Other states, including Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois, have conducted similar successful tests in the past few years. Though encouraged, participation in this test by broadcast stations and cable systems is voluntary. This test was also endorsed by the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC).

If there is a threat of actual severe weather on April 19, the test will be postponed until April 20, 2017. If there is a threat of severe weather on April 20 the test will be cancelled. The go/no-go decision will be made by 4pm the day prior by the National Weather Service, as well as the Statewide Tornado Drill Working Group. MAB will post a go/no-go status on its homepage at http://www.michmab.com.

While the audio of this test will repeat several times in the script “This is a Test,” and with the EAS Tornado Code being used, the crawl on TV stations and cable stations will read “A Tornado Warning has been issued for…(and it will list your counties).” We ask that TV broadcasters and cable operators participating in the test to display a “This is a Test” graphic behind the crawl.

An updated graphics kit for on-air, web and social media use is available here.

The test will be originated on the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) and these tests will will cover all counties in Michigan and will originate from the NWS offices at Grand Rapids, Gaylord, Marquette, Detroit/Pontiac and Northern Indiana. They will be relayed via the State Relay (SR) and Local Primary (LP) stations.

The TOR code test may be run in lieu of a Required Weekly Test (RWT) the week of April 17, 2017.

What to Expect in Your Market on April 19, 2017

As noted above, its more than likely that your area may experience a test of tornado sirens in addition to the activation of the EAS tornado alert. All businesses, organizations, families and individuals are welcome to participate in the voluntary statewide preparedness activity. Nearly all state of Michigan facilities will be involved.

How Broadcasters Can Help

This is an excellent opportunity for broadcasters to show the importance of radio and television in times of emergencies. We ask broadcasters to take an active role in their communities to alert listeners and viewers about not only the test alerts, but our role in providing vital information to the public in times of severe weather and other emergencies.

Local Emergency Management Coordinators have been encouraged to reach out to broadcasters in advance of the test.

***The MAB asks broadcasters to reach out to their local emergency management personnel regarding the activities in their own market. We ask you to cover it in your news, community affairs programs, popular personality shows and in your weather breaks.***

Please use Emergency Managers in newscast interviews and on your local morning shows and talk programming.

Not certain who to contact? The MAB has a list of statewide emergency management contacts available here.

A Statewide Tornado Drill Media Toolkit, including talking points, sample social media posts and more is available. Download the kit here.

An updated graphics kit for on-air, web and social media use is available here.

If you have not done so, the MAB encourages you to begin on-air mentions and promotion of the tornado test as soon as possible.

There are recorded radio PSAs for severe weather week available as well as a live read script for both radio and television:

PSA #1 :30 Download (Statewide Tornado Drill)
PSA #2 :30 Download (Outdoor Sirens)
Live Read Script Download

The State of Michigan has prepared graphics for use on your webpage and social media posts here.

Additional Information/Contacts

The official website for the Statewide Tornado Alert: http://michigan.gov/miready

Michigan State Police contact:

Dale R. George
Public Information Officer
Emergency Management and Homeland Security
Michigan State Police
7150 Harris Drive
Dimondale, Michigan 48821
Phone: 517-284-3962
Fax: 517-284-3857
GeorgeD5@michigan.gov

Michigan Association of Broadcasters contact:

Dan Kelley
Technology Manager
Phone: (517) 484-7444
dkelley@michmab.com

Register Now and Save!


Early-bird registration is now open for the annual MAB Advocacy Conference and Annual Meeting, to be held at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, August 22-23.

While speakers are still being lined up for this event, the awards ceremony is not to be missed as we induct broadcasters into the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame and present the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Day 2 of the conference features the annual MAB Foundation Golf Scramble Fundraiser!

It’s a great chance to catch up with fellow broadcasters from around the state and discuss the legislative and regulatory issues facing today’s broadcasters.

Registration and lodging information is available here.

Hurry! Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement Award Nominations Due April 28

Do you know a broadcaster that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, or receive the Lifetime Achievement Award? Now is the time to nominate them! Nominations due Friday, April 28, 2017.

Click here for more information on the qualifications and to fill out the form to nominate someone.

Check out the previous award recipients here.

All awards will be presented at the Awards Banquet on Tuesday, August 22 at Crystal Mountain Resort.

Bill Stegath, Michigan Radio Alumnus, Passes

Bill Stegath in 2013
Bill Stegath in 2013

Michigan Radio (WUOM/WFUM/WVGR) reports that Dr. William B. Stegath, its longest living alumnus, passed away March 29, just two weeks before his 97th birthday.

Stegath was sports director for WUOM from 1953 to 1962 and is best known as the Voice of the Wolverines, announcing Michigan football games on the station, a role only held by two other people.

He also announced Michigan basketball, baseball and hockey games.   He was the recipient of eight national broadcasting awards and was inducted into the Michigan Stadium Media Hall of Fame this past September.

Stegath enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1938, earning his under undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate degrees at the University.  He also served in the U.S. Air Force from 1943 to 1946 and earned the rank of captain.

Returning to Michigan after the war, he served as professor of communications, the assistant executive director of the Alumni Association, and the first camp director at Camp Michigania.

More on Bill Stegath in the 2013 video:

Public Media Impact Award Nominations Now Open!

View More: http://benjamindavidphotography.pass.us/mabsummer2016This year marks the 32nd year of honoring Michigan’s public broadcasters with the MAPB Public Media Impact Award.

Two awards will be presented – one award for Donors and one award for Professionals – for their contribution to public broadcasting in Michigan. The awards will be presented at the Annual Awards Banquet as part of the August 2017 Advocacy Conference & Annual Meeting at Crystal Mountain Resort in Thompsonville, MI, which is attended by owners and operators of broadcast stations, lawmakers and other dignitaries.

Purpose

  • To recognize outstanding individuals involved in public broadcasting for their innovation and creativity.
  • To inspire others involved in public broadcasting to greater achievement in the field of public radio and television.
  • To increase awareness of public broadcasting and the contributions talented individuals make to the industry statewide.

Eligibility
Donors and Professionals involved in Michigan public radio or television are eligible for nomination. Nominations can be made by colleagues, supervisors and/or station managers. Activities for which the person is nominated may be long-term, to recognize lifetime contributions to public broadcasting, or more recent, to reflect a concentrated period of achievement.

Nomination Process
Deadline for nominations and supporting material (i.e. letters of support, photos and videos) is Wednesday, June 7, 2017.

Visit the MAPB Award Page here for more information and to access the online nomination form.