Category Archives: Legislative Update

Governor Signs Public Threat Alert Legislation

capitol3Governor Rick Snyder signed House Bill 5442 into law. The new law requires that the Michigan State Police (MSP) establish and maintain a public threat alert system plan that would rapidly disseminate useful information to radio, television, and through wireless emergency alerts (WEA).

The law states that the Public Threat Alert System shall be activated only in accordance with the policies created by the Michigan State Police. The law contains no mandates for broadcasters.

The MAB and the State Emergency Communications Committee (SECC) is reviewing several requests to use the EAS “LEW” (Law Enforcement Warning) code, with concern that over-use could lead to station deactivating codes that are not mandated by the FCC.

Broadcast Auction Bids Heat Up

The FCC is stepping up the pace of the bidding rounds in the forward part of the incentive auction. Beginning June 13, the agency started conducting three rounds of bidding per day, up from the previous two. Initially, experts suggested that the reverse auction could run a maximum of 51 rounds. However, the new schedule may mean that the auction could end in late June – early July.

While it’s not clear when the forward auction begins, the agency has now set July 1 as the deadline for wireless auction applicants to make their upfront payments.

MABPAC Fundraiser: Let’s Go to the Ballpark!

PACfundraiser
Please join the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Political Action Committee (MABPAC)
for the Detroit Tigers v. Chicago White Sox baseball game and fundraiser on Monday, August 29, prior to the 2016 MAB Summer Advocacy Conference.

Guests will enjoy the game and picnic-style dinner and drinks in one of the private party suites located by third base.

What: Tigers vs. White Sox
When: Monday, August 29 – Suite opens at 6 p.m.; Game time is 7:10 p.m.
Where: Comerica Park, Detroit
Cost: $250/person

Reserve your spot by clicking HERE.

Space is limited and is available on first come, first served basis. Reserve your tickets today!

NOTE: In compliance with the Michigan Campaign Finance law, only personal checks/payments can be accepted. No corporate checks, please.

Questions? Contact Elena Palombo at Palombo@michmab.com or 517-484-7444.

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you at the game!

Senate Committee Greenlights Internet Gaming Bills

capitol3Senate Bills 889 and 890 allowing eight Michigan casinos to launch their own Internet gaming websites were voted out of the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee, despite testimony claiming the bills are unconstitutional and would cost the state “hundreds of millions of dollars” in lost revenue from tribal casinos.

Legislation includes a statement that says the Legislature finds that the Internet is “an integral part of everyday life for a significant number of residents of the state,” and that “Internet wagering on games of chance and games of skill is a core form of entertainment for millions of individuals across the world that generates billions of dollars in revenue for governments.”

The bill would grant licenses for Internet gambling in Michigan for just companies that currently have a casino license. This would include the Detroit casinos, and with tribal governments that have a gambling compact with the state. The bill would also require the licensees to make a non-refundable $100,000 application fee and a $5 million license fee (which could be refunded if a license is not granted).

The bill also imposes a 10 percent tax on gaming revenues, which the Legislature would appropriate.

FCC Proposes Earth Station Update Extension

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a Public Notice regarding an extension of the deadline that TV stations using satellite newsgathering trucks will have to install a tracking beam so neighboring satellite TV operators can find them if they cause interference.

TV Technology reports that nearly three years ago, the Federal Communications Commission ordered the adoption of an identification scheme that would allow satellite operators to track down interference from temporary-fixed earth stations—a category that includes satellite newsgathering trucks. These stations were supposed to start embedding an Automatic Transmitter Identification System message into their subcarrier signal by September 3, 2016. This was to be achieved through an upgraded or new modulator, but those are few and far between as the deadline approaches, according to the FCC Public Notice seeking feedback on when to set the new deadline.

“Recent information from affected earth station operators and independent staff market surveillance, indicate that suitable external modulators have not become widely available,” the notice said. “Many earth station operators would therefore be unable to retro-fit their current transmitting equipment in order to comply… and instead would need to replace the equipment at a considerably greater expense than anticipated when the rule was adopted.”

Read more here.

U.S. House Recognizes Broadcasters’ Role in Emergencies

The House of Representatives passed the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters (SANDy) Act, H.R. 3998, sponsored by Congressman Frank Pallone (D-NJ). This bill makes several changes to wireless and emergency networks in order to improve disaster response. It officially recognizes the role radio and television broadcasters play in emergency situations.

This legislation:

  • Ensures that during an emergency, consumer cell phones work on other carriers’ networks if their own network goes down, giving priority to calls to 911 services and emergency alerts;
  • Begins a process to provide 911 services over Wi-Fi hotspots during emergencies;
  • Ensures that all communication providers, including radio, TV, and phone can fix outages faster, even across state lines; and
  • Launches an expansive study of the future of network resiliency.

H.R. 3998 is now being considered by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.

Snyder Signs Legislation Blocking Petition Signatures Older Than 180 Days

Rick-Snyder_300Governor Rick Snyder has signed a bill, Senate Bill 776, which prohibits the state from counting signatures older than 180 days that were collected for ballot proposals and constitutional amendments. This means that, beginning immediately, petition signatures for constitutional amendments or initiated legislation collected 180 days before the proposals are turned into the state will not count.

Backers of one of the marijuana legalization proposals have been pushing for the change to allow signatures older than 180 days. Anti-fracking and marijuana legalization petition drives indicated that they would fight the law in court.

Congress Passes Bill on FCC Rule Publication

Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed the FCC Reform bill. This week, the legislation was passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, HR 2589, introduced by Congresswoman Renee Ellmers (R-NC) requires the FCC to publish rule changes on the same day as they are adopted and publish the changes to its website no later than 24 hours after their adoption.

Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) said, “Improving the process at the FCC so that it operates in an effective and transparent manner holds the FCC accountable and targets their struggle to make its newly adopted rules available to the public in a timely fashion.”

Must Read: A Broadcaster’s Guide to the U.S. Department of Labor’s New Overtime Exemption Requirements

By:  Julia E. Judish, Scott R. Flick, and Jessica Nyman
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, LLP

On May 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor published final regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) that more than doubled the minimum salary level necessary to be exempt from the Act’s overtime rules. While the changes affect all businesses subject to the FLSA, broadcasters in particular may feel the impact of the changes given the staffing models used by many TV and radio stations. The new requirements will go into effect on December 1, 2016, and broadcasters need to take steps to adapt to, and minimize the impact of, those changes prior to that deadline.

Download the eight-page guide (PDF) here.

FCC Moves to Drop Two Public File Rules

fcc-logo_dark-blueAccording to a report in TVNewsCheck, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed to eliminate two public file inspection rules. The rules currently mandate that:

• Commercial television and radio broadcast stations to retain, and make available to the public, copies of correspondence from viewers and listeners; and
• Cable operators to maintain and allow public inspection of the location of a cable system’s principal headend.

The commission says removing these requirements will allow broadcasters and cable operators to make their entire public inspection file available online and permit them to stop maintaining local public files. The agency maintains that modernizing the filing process will make it easier for consumers to access information about their broadcast services without having to travel to the station’s main studio and reduce the cost of broadcaster compliance.