Category Archives: Legislative Update

FCC Releases Tutorial on FM Translator Auction Window for AM Stations

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

On July 13, The FCC released an online tutorial for the upcoming windows for filing for FM translators for AM stations. The first window will run from July 26 until 6 pm E.T. on August 2, where Class C and D AM stations that did not receive a translator in last year’s 250-mile waiver windows can file for a new FM translator to rebroadcast their AM station. We wrote about that window here.

The online tutorial may be accessed here.

The tutorial references various FCC filing guides to assist applicants in filing their applications. The Public Notice announcing the Tutorial also makes clear that, if an applicant has a pending application to acquire an AM station during the window, the proposed assignee can file the application for the new translator, presumably to be granted upon the acquisition of the station (as these translators are tied to the AM on a permanent basis). The current owner of the station and the proposed buyer cannot both file – only one application per station will be permitted. AM stations planning to take advantage of this window should be well into the process of preparing their applications for the window that opens in less than 2 weeks.

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.

Police Body Camera Bill Signed by Snyder

Gov. Rick Snyder has signed HB 4427 into law (now Public Act 85 of 2017), which exempts public release of footage from police body cameras if the footage was taken in a person’s private residence. The new law also request that police departments  create rules for disclosure and retention of audio and video recordings from body cameras worn by police officers. The bill was unanimously approved by both chambers of Michigan Legislature.

Public Act 85 exempts the recordings from public-records request under certain circumstances, including if the recordings were made in a “private place.” Recordings also will be kept private during ongoing criminal or internal investigations but only for listed reasons such as public disclosure interfering with law enforcement proceedings or invading personal privacy. Body camera recordings retained as part of civil lawsuits will not be considered public records.

The MAB has serious concerns about this law and testified against this bill in previous legislative sessions. By stating that body-worn camera footage is not a public record,  this law places the recorded content outside the purview of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)  in connection with criminal or internal investigations. Exempting such recordings  removes any chance of impartial, neutral and judicial review of exemptions as provided by the FOIA.  Furthermore, there are unanswered questions about the manner in which the law enforcement will collect, retain, use and disclose these recordings. Each of those issues bears on the public’s right to know.

FEMA Appoints New IPAWS Subcommittee

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently announced the names of 31 individuals who will serve on a new IPAWS subcommittee to offer guidance on best standards and operating procedures for the nation’s emergency alert system.

Now part of the FEMA’s National Advisory Council (NAC), the first IPAWS subcommittee meeting will be held August 8 and 9 in Washington, D.C. Members will meet again up to four times per year.

The subcommittee’s appointed responsibilities include providing recommendations for new alerting protocols and operating procedures for the public alert and warning system and submitting a recommendation report on the overall system to the NAC. Any subcommittee report will be shared with other government agencies, including the House and Senate committees on homeland security.

Click here to learn more about the new IPAWS subcommittee and its members. 

 

FCC Steps Up Enforcement Against Pirate Radio

According to a report by Inside Radio, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai confirmed that combating pirate radio is a “major priority” for the agency.

“We’ll take aggressive action to enforce the rules against pirate radio broadcasters,” Pai wrote in a statement.

As part of the FCC’s stepped-up enforcement action the Enforcement Bureau has targeted the owners of several Florida and Massachusetts properties where the unlicensed stations are based.

NAB Files Comments to End Main Studio Rule

NABThe National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) recently filed comments in support of the FCC’s proposal to eliminate the agency’s main studio rule. The organization asserts that the rule is outdated and unnecessary.

It its statement, the NAB wrote: “The rule was designed to facilitate input from the community and station participation in community activities through physical access to the local studio, and was conceived nearly eighty years ago. Today, however, widespread use of electronic communications enables efficient interaction between stations and their communities of license without the need for the physical presence of a studio.”

In addition, the association said: “The elimination of the main studio rule and related staffing and equipment requirements will reduce regulatory burdens on broadcasters, resulting in cost savings and other efficiencies that will allow stations to better serve their audiences.”

The main studio rule was created more than 70 years ago when physical access to a studio was likely the principal means for viewers and listeners to interact with station personnel.

Part-Time Legislature Petition Language Starting Over

Lt. Gov. Brian Calley is starting over his effort to make Michigan’s Legislature part-time with newly drafted petition language.

The move means that all the signatures collected so far in support for the proposal can be nullified.

In a statement, issued on July 4, Calley said  the Clean Michigan Government Committee is revising its language to ensure voters get to decide the issue.

“The Lansing establishment has gone to great lengths to try to stall this effort, but we are standing with the people,” Calley said. “We have learned a lot about the legal strategy that opponents plan to use in court to try and defeat this effort and have decided to take every step to ensure voters have their say on this important reform.”

NAB Supports FCC’s Decision to Raise Regulatory Fee Threshold

According to a report in Broadcasting & Cable, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) supports the FCC’s decision to raise the regulatory fee exemption threshold from $500 to $1,000. In the comments filed by the NAB, it writes that the cost of collecting payments would most likely exceed the actual amount of the payment, while smaller and rural TV and radio stations would benefit significantly from the decision.

FCC Seeks Public Comment on Blue Alert Legislation

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted unanimously in favor of an event code that would create a streamlined way for the media to issue Blue Alerts when a police officer has been threatened or harmed. The proposal will now be up for public comment for three months.

According to the FCC, the alert would go out when a suspect is at large and there’s “actionable” information for the public — such as a clear description — in circumstances that involve an imminent, credible threat to a law enforcement officer or when a law enforcement officer is missing, seriously injured or killed in the line of duty. Under the proposal, the state and local officials would deterimine when or whether to issue Blue Alerts.

MAB’s Palombo Meets with D.C. Staffs, Attends ‘Service to America Awards’

MAB Government Relations Manager Elena Palombo went to Washington, D.C. last week to meet with the Michigan Congressional legislative staff to discuss issues affecting our members including: post-spectrum auction repack, preserving ad tax deductibility and opposing legislation that imposes performance tax on our radio members. MAB was also on hand to help celebrate our member WDIV-TV winning the NABEF Service to America Awards. We send warm congratulations to the station and the staff for winning this prestigious award

Snyder Picks Mason as the New MEDC CEO

Gov. Rick Snyder has tapped Jeff Mason, Executive Director of the state’s University Research Corridor, to replace Steve Arwood as the CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).

Mason will still have to be approved by the MEDC Executive Committee, which will meet on July 11 to consider Snyder’s nomination. Mason has led the University Research Corridor since 2009. He was previously at the MEDC in various positions from 1999-2009.

“Jeff has a long history of commitment and dedication to improving Michigan’s economy and growing jobs – from his previous time at MEDC to the past eight years with the University Research Corridor,” Snyder said in a statement.