Category Archives: Legislative Update

WOOD-TV Will Host First GOP Debate on May 9

Republicans running for Michigan governor will participate in two televised debates before the August primary election.

The May 9  debate will air at 7:00 p.m. on  WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids), WLNS-TV (Lansing), WJMN-TV (Marquette), WJRT-TV (Flint) and WFQX-TV (Cadillac). WDIV-TV (Detroit) will live stream the event on ClickOnDetroit.com.

All four viable candidates will participate: Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines.

WOOD-TV has announced also that it is currently in negotiations to host a Democratic gubernatorial debate.

WDIV-TV (Detroit) will host the second debate on June 28.

The Detroit Regional Chamber is planning a joint debate for candidates from both parties to be held at the group’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island in late May.

MAB to Hold News Conference on May 15 at the State Capitol

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters will hold a news conference  at 1:00 p.m.  on Tuesday, May 15 at the State Capitol to highlight the findings of the Woods and Poole Economic Study of the economic impact of broadcasting on the state of Michigan.
The news conference will be recorded and made available to stations via a link sent to all stations.  You will have the choice of the raw feed and short segments suitable for your news segments.
MAB Chairman Peter Tanz, Vice Chairman Gary Baxter, and President Karole L. White will be joined by Speaker Pro Tem Lee Canfield (R-107), who will present a tribute to Michigan’s Broadcasters for their service to local communities and the state of Michigan at large.
The News Conference is part of the MAB’s a day-long event, “State Capitol Advocacy Day,” where broadcasters will meet one on one with elected officials to discuss important issues, such as transparancy,  FOIA and more.
For more information contact Elena Palombo at 1-800-YOUR-MAB or palombo@michmab.com.

Broadcasters Designated as Essential Service Providers

According to Scott R. Flick, Pillsbury Law, one of the lessons Hurricane Katrina and subsequent disasters brought home is that in the modern age, communication is every bit as vital to saving lives as disaster relief supplies and helicopters. Catastrophes require more precise communications, such as telling people where they need to go to avoid or ride out the disaster, as well as where those disaster relief supplies can be found.  Broadcasters often clear the way for specific resupply missions.

Hidden in over 55,000 lines of text in the Consolidated Appropriations Act are just 20 lines that change the definition of “essential service provider” at a disaster site. Those twenty lines of text expand the definition of an essential service provider to include “radio or television broadcasting among other services essential to America”

As essential service providers, we are now empowered to access disaster areas under the provisions of existing law, which provides that:

Unless exceptional circumstances apply, in an emergency or major disaster, the head of a Federal agency, to the greatest extent practicable, shall not—

(a) deny or impede access to the disaster site to an essential service provider whose access is necessary to restore and repair an essential service; or

(b) Impede the restoration or repair of the [essential] services . . . .

Note: that the change only affects Federal officials, state laws providing broadcasters with First Informer or First Responder status are still needed for areas that are not Federal disaster areas. The MAB will be working on a similar bill for the State of Michigan.

Congress Considers $2 Million to Fight Radio Pirates

A bill which received bipartisan support proposes to raise the maximum fine for pirate radio to as much as $2 million was discussed in the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Lawmakers agreed that the current fines are not enough to deter Pirates.

Federal law presently allows the FCC to impose a maximum fine of $19,246 a day up to a maximum of only $144,344.  The proposal would boost that to as much as $100, thousand a day up to a max of $2 Million

Unlicensed stations are putting the public at risk said David Donovan President of the New York State Broadcasters Association.  Pirate radio stations potentially interfere with the Emergency Alert System’s daisy-chain leaving some without vital emergency information.

In addition to raising pirate fines, the proposal would require the FCC to conduct enforcement sweeps in the top five radio markets at least twice a year for the purpose of identifying ,locating, terminating and confiscating the equipment of pirate radio operators.  Further the legislation under consideration would give the FCC authority to issue the large fines against any landlord or business that provides physical goods or services and financial assistance to an unlicensed station. This includes advertisers on a pirate station.  Pirate operators are hard for consumers and advertisers to identify because illegal stations take on the aurora of legitimate stations.

The FCC has stepped up their enforcement under current law but the added fines will put a bigger bight into the law.  Pirate Radio is Big business in some areas.

Congressman Fred Upton Turns 65

Congressman Fred Upton and MAB President/CEO Karole L. White

MAB President Karole White and Government Relations Director Elena Palombo attended the 65th birthday celebration for U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-6) in St. Joseph on April 20.  Around 100 people gathered for the celebration.

The congressman reported that he would be filing to run for office again in the next few days. Upton has been a strong supporter of over-the-air broadcasting and is the former Chairman of the U.S. House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Others in attendance included several Michigan House members and former MAB board member and Gayle Olson, owner of Mid-West Family Broadcasting.

Two Televised GOP Gubernatorial Debates Announced

Republicans running for Michigan governor will participate in two televised debates before the August primary election.

The debates were confirmed April 20 by the state Republican Party.

WOOD-TV (Grand Rapids) will host the first debate with political reporter Rick Albin as moderator on May 9 in Grand Rapids. WDIV-TV (Detroit) will host the second debate on June 28.

All four viable candidates will participate: Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck and Dr. Jim Hines.

WOOD-TV has announced also that it is currently in negotiations to host a Democratic gubernatorial debate.

The Detroit Regional Chamber is planning a joint debate for candidates from both parties to be held at the group’s annual policy conference on Mackinac Island in late May.

FCC Extends LPTV/TV Translator Displacement Filing Deadline

According to David Oxenford’s Broadcast Law Blog, the FCC has released a Public Notice announcing an extension in the application filing deadline in the window for LPTV stations and TV translators that are displaced by the TV repacking following the incentive auction.

In this window, displaced stations can file applications for new channels or new facilities that remove their conflicts with repacked stations or which move the LPTV or TV translator into the spectrum that will continue to be devoted to TV broadcasting after TV channels above 37 are repurposed for wireless uses. The new deadline for displacement applications for these LPTV and TV translator stations is now June 1.

The FCC Publishes Compliance Guide for BLUE Alerts

The FCC published a Small Entity Compliance Guide for BLUE alerts available here. “The use of the BLU event code is voluntary and EAS and EAS Participants may update their software to add the BLU event code on a voluntary basis. Such software updates may be bundled with other routine software updates to minimize burden and expense,” according to the guide.

Recreational Marijuana Petition Gathers Enough Signatures for the Ballot

According to a report in Gongwer, the Board of State Canvassers concluded that the voter-initiated petitions to legalize marijuana has collected sufficient valid signatures to be sent to the Legislature for consideration or go to the November ballot.

There has been some speculation legislative Republicans might try to enact the proposal as it could potentially drive more liberal voters to the polls in November. However, the legalization is likely headed to the November ballot after House Speaker Tom Leonard (R-93) said Thursday there’s not enough support for the proposal to be approved in the House.

DHS to Compile Database of Journalists

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to track journalists, bloggers and other “media influencers” through a database. The DHS’s “Media Monitoring” plan would give the contracting company “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.” in order to identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.

The database would be designed to monitor the public activities of media members and influencers by “location, beat and influencers,” the document says.