Category Archives: Legislative Update

DOJ Decides ASCAP and BMI Decrees Should Not Be Altered

On August 4, the U.S. Department of Justice decided not to accept the proposed changes to the ASCAP and BMI music licensing antitrust agreements in place since 1941.

“The division’s investigation confirmed that the current system has well served music creators and music users for decades and should remain intact,” the department said in a released statement.

In response to the announcement, NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith said, “Local radio and television broadcasters strongly support the Justice Department’s decision not to modify the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. We appreciate the hard work of the DOJ during its diligent, comprehensive review and believe that this decision will ensure that ASCAP and BMI continue to fairly and efficiently license musical works in a manner that is pro-competitive. Broadcasters look forward to continuing our close relationship with these performance rights organizations, which have worked to the mutual benefit of songwriters, music licensees and listeners around the world for decades.”

ASCAP and BMI reacted by joining forces and announcing legal action to challenge the decision in federal court.

New E-Cig Advertising Rules Now in Effect

On August 8, 2016, new rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) went into effect concerning radio, television and online advertisements for electronic cigarettes (“e-cigs”) and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (including e-hookah, vape pens, advanced refillable personal vaporizers, and electronic pipes), regular size or large cigars, pipe tobacco, and certain other tobacco products. Specifically, advertisements for these products cannot contain representations that the product presents a lower risk of tobacco-related disease or is less harmful than other commercially marketed tobacco products.

In addition, as of August 8, 2016, advertisements for e-cigs and other tobacco products cannot be targeted at persons under 18 years of age. Although these rules do not apply to broadcasters directly, broadcasters should be aware of them in order to assist their clients’ compliance efforts.

Read more, including required warnings in advertisements here.

Let’s Go To The Ballpark! PAC Fundraiser August 29

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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!

MAB Files with the FCC to Drop Paper Letter Requirement

The Michigan Association of Broadcasers has joined other state broadcast associations in a FCC filling to support a proposal that commercial radio and television operators should no longer be required to keep hard copies of letters and emails from listeners and viewers in public files housed at the station. In the past, the FCC cited privacy concerns for requiring such communication be kept out of the online database, but, it now believes the legacy requirement does little to ensure broadcasters are serving the public interest.

State broadcast associations argue in the filing that eliminating the hard copy requirements will reduce the regulatory burdens on commercial broadcasters. And, that the use of social media platforms make stations “immediately and publicly responsible for their programming decisions,” thereby making a requirement to keep letters and email printouts “anachronistic, antiquated and fundamentally meaningless.” The state associations also say that eliminating the requirement will incentivize stations outside the top 50 markets, with fewer that five employees, to voluntarily make the jump to posting their public inspection online ahead of the March 2018 deadline.

MAB Provides Campaign Committee Information

MAB is pleased to provide to our members, contact information to candidate campaign committees, for the lawmakers running in the 2016 election, including state and federal races. This information is posted on the MAB’s members only section and requires a log-in.

If you have further questions, please contact MAB Government Relations Manager Elena Palombo at palombo@michmab.com. Information has been compiled by the MAB lobby firm Kelley-Cawthorne.

Please click HERE for the 2016 candidate campaign committee information.

State Lawmaker Wants OMA Filers to Recover Legal Costs

capitol3Under the legislation introduced by State Representative Martin Howrylak (R-41), citizens who win an Open Meetings Act (OMA) case against a public body can recover court costs and legal fees. House Bill 5778 states that persons who who take a public body to court in a civil OMA case can recover court costs and legal fees. “Public bodies have a responsibility to operate transparently and when we fail to do so, citizens should not be forced to foot the legal bill for exposing an injustice,” Howrylak said in a statement.

Congressman Introduces Legislation to Delay DOL Overtime Rules

In response to the new Department of Labor (DOL) overtime rule set to take effect December 1, Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR) introduced legislation, titled the Overtime Reform and Enhancement Act (OREA), which would incrementally phase in the new salary threshold over the next three years. The three-year window is designed to give businesses adequate time to adjust to the new standard. The bill would also eliminate a provision in the final overtime rule that allows for automatic updates to the salary threshold every three years. Read more about the legislation on Congressman Schrader’s website.

NAB Executive Vice President of Communications Dennis Wharton issued the following statement: “NAB appreciates Rep. Schrader’s efforts to ease the burden of the Department of Labor’s overtime pay rule by phasing it in over three years. Broadcasters are committed to creating well-paying jobs in their local communities but share the widespread concern that the overtime rule could have a devastating impact on our day-to-day operations. We will continue to work with Members of Congress on common-sense approach to this issue that benefits all stakeholders.”

FCC: No New Rules on Retrans

Tom_Wheeler_FCC_300Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler announced via a blog post that the FCC will not be taking any new regulatory actions on retransmission consent as a result of its investigation into its good faith rules.

Specifically, Wheeler stated that the FCC “will not proceed at this time to adopt additional rules governing good faith negotiations for retransmission consent.” This effectively closes the existing retransmission consent proceeding and ensures that broadcasters and pay-TV companies continue to negotiate in the free market as they have for more than two decades. Chairman Wheeler said that the existing rules were adequate to ensure good faith negotiations.

The MAB feels this is a great victory for television broadcasters and the result of the broadcasters’ strong advocacy at the FCC and on the Capitol Hill.

Court Reverses 20-Year Decision on Open Booking Photos

According to a report in Gongwer, a divided 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a 20-year-old decision that required federal criminal booking photos automatically be released on request. The judges argued that releasing those photos violate a “non-trivial privacy interest” defendants have in those booking photos.

Booking photos convey an image of guilt, the court held in Detroit Free Press v. U.S. Department of Justice (USCOA docket No. 14-1670), though a defendant may not be found guilty. The ability to easily find a booking photo online can have a dramatic effect on an individual’s ability to find work and their personal prospects, judges ruled in the final decision.

The dissent argued that “the court’s decision obscures government’s most coercive functions – the powers to detain and accuse – and returns them to the shadows. Open government is too dear a cost to pay for the mirage of privacy the majority has to offer.”

A challenge to this ruling would require that a petition for hearing be submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

MAB On-The-Road With Legislative Meetings

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(L-R) Debbie Kenyon (Senior VP/CBS Radio Detroit), Ed Fernandez (Divisional GM E.W. Scripps Co.), Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-12), Mike Renda (VP, WJBK-TV Detroit), Marla Drutz (VP, WDIV-TV Detroit) and Karole White (MAB President/CEO).

The MAB has started its summer series of in-district congressional meetings with Congressman Justin Amash (R-3) and Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-12). The focus of the meetings is to update lawmakers on the status of the incentive spectrum auction, discuss co-sponsorship of the Local Radio Freedom Act and advocate for preserving ad tax deductibility in any future tax reform legislation.