Category Archives: Legislative Update

MAB Testifies on a Drone Bill in Senate Transportation Committee

Last week, MAB Government Relations Manager Elena Palombo testified in the Senate Transportation Committee in opposition to Senate Bill 432 – legislation that prohibits drones from operating within 1,000 feet of Mackinac Bridge. The MAB asked the committee to consider amendatory language to the bill, which will allow FCC-licensed TV and radio stations, and their sub-contractors, to use drones for news-gathering purposes to the extent allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The MAB also requested that SB 432 sponsor and committee chair, Senator Tom Casperson (R-38), include the association and individual media outlets in the Drone Task Force, set up by Senator Casperson. MAB will keep you updated on this legislation as issues develop.

MAB is working on a separate, stand-alone bill that would potentially exempt all commercial drone operators from legislation restricting the use of drones.

AM Revitalization Rules to Take Effect February 18

The FCC’s AM revitalization rules have been published in the Federal Register on January 19. The publication sets the effective date of the new rules as February 18, and establishes the framework for the one-time FM translators-for-AM stations filing windows in 2017, the continuation of “MATTOON Waivers” and the 250-mile window for moving existing translators for use as AM simulcasters. The new rules also modify the community coverage requirement for existing AM stations to reduce required coverage to 50% of the area or 50% of the population of the community, delete the Ratchet Rule, and adopt new rules for Modulation Dependent Carrier Level control of transmitters.

Bills Expand FOIA to Legislators, Governor

Several bills introduced last week would expand the state’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to include State Legislature and the Governor’s office, two entities currently exempt from FOIA. The goals of the bill are to add more transparency to the Legislature and the Governor’s office. House Bill 5216, introduced by State Representative John Bizon (R-62), would expand FOIA to State Legislature. The bill has been referred to the Michigan House Government Operations committee. Senate Bill 716, introduced by State Senator Coleman Young II (D-1), expands FOIA to the State Legislature and the Governor’s office. SB 716 was referred to the Michigan Senate Committee on Government Operations. Michigan is one of three states that exempts their governor and legislature from the state freedom of information law. MAB is tracking.

Update from the NAB

Bruce GoldsenBy: Bruce Goldsen, Jackson Radio Works & NAB Radio Board Member

Congress Passes Legislation That Grandfathers Joint Sales Agreements: Legislation passed in December limits a 2014 Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decision that made most television joint sales agreements (JSAs) count toward strict ownership limits, violating media ownership rules.

Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) Announces Reduced Streaming Rates: As a result of NAB advocacy, the CRB reduced royalty rates for radio broadcasters’ streaming services by 32 percent in 2016, moving rates in the right direction.

Bipartisan House Majority Opposes a Performance Tax: Once again, holding off the record labels in an attempt to tax radio, broadcasters secured a bipartisan majority of Congress to support the Local Radio Freedom Act, acknowledging the important role stations play in their local communities.

Retransmission Consent Process Remains Intact/FCC Delays Action on Eliminating Exclusivity: NAB continues to work to ensure policymakers understand how the retransmission consent system benefits TV viewers and prevented government interference in these private, market-driven negotiations. Numerous high-profile legislators also urged the FCC not to upend programming exclusivity rules, and the FCC has delayed action on its harmful proposal.

FCC Supports AM Radio Revitalization: The FCC voted unanimously to open an application window for FM translators that would be limited to AM radio licensees. The FCC also approved various technical measures to aid AM stations and made additional proposals to reduce regulatory burdens on AM broadcasters.

Major Phone Carriers Announce Support for Radio Chips in Cell Phones: Broadcasters have worked tirelessly to promote access to radio receivers in mobile devices. In 2015, AT&T announced it will unlock FM radio in all of their future Android smartphones. T-Mobile soon followed with a commitment to activate chips. These major carriers will join Sprint in providing U.S. consumers access to a free entertainment and emergency information option through FM radio through their phones.

NAB Political Action Committee (NABPAC) Achieves Record-High Participation: Broadcasters’ grassroots engagement is making a difference in Washington, D.C. In 2015, NABPAC achieved a record-high annual fundraising total of $1.17 million. Through NABPAC, broadcasters are engaging in the political process to help shape the future of the industry. Learn more at NABPAC.com.

If you’re not currently an N.A.B. member, I hope you’ll consider joining our organization. Its mission is much different than that of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters; one concentrates on state issues, the other on federal legislative and regulatory matters of vital concern to ALL television and radio broadcasters.

As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me with any questions or comments at bgoldsen@k1053.com.

Sincerely,
Bruce Goldsen

FCC Adopts Rules for Online Public Files

At its open meeting on January 28, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) adopted rules requiring radio to have an online public file. The new rule will:

· Require entities to only upload to the online public file documents that are not already on file with the FCC or maintained by the Commission in its own database; the Commission will include documents already on file with the FCC in the online file ;

· Exempt existing political file material from the online file requirement, and require that political file documents be uploaded only on a going-forward basis, consistent with the approach taken in the television transition;

· With respect to radio broadcasters, impose the online file requirement initially only on commercial stations in the top 50 Nielsen Audio markets with five (5) or more full-time employees, while delaying for two years all mandatory online public file requirements for other radio stations;

· Permit entities that are temporarily exempt from part or all online public file requirements to upload material to the online file voluntarily before the delayed effective date of their online file requirement;

· Permit entities that have fully transitioned to the online public file to cease maintaining a local public file, as long as they provide online access to back-up political file material via the entity’s own website if the FCC’s online file database becomes temporarily unavailable.

Reminder: TV Stations Must Caption IP Video Clips as of January 1, 2016

In July 2014, the FCC adopted new rules that require video clips delivered by Internet Protocol (IP) to be captioned if the clip is from video programming that was shown with captions on television. The rules and standards for captioning such IP clips are the same as those for regular, full-length programming if the clip is posted to a station’s website or app after it was shown on television with captions.

The FCC established January 1, 2016, as the deadline for compliance with this new obligation. Accordingly, all television stations must caption all “straight-lift” video clips, or clips that contain a single excerpt of a captioned television program with the same video and audio that was presented on television. Certain exemptions apply, including when the video clip is posted to a third-party website or app (i.e., one that is not owned or operated by the programming producer or distributor). In addition, the rules apply only to IP clips posted online after January 1, 2016. Also, the new captioning requirements do not apply to IP clips in which the audio is substantially different from the audio that accompanied the televised video.

Different deadlines apply to other types of captioned video:

(1) January 1, 2017: deadline for captioning of montages or a video clip created from multiple straight-lift clips.
(2) July 1, 2017: deadline for captioning of live programming (video clip posted online at or around the same time the program airs on television with captions) and near-live programming (video clip created and posted online within 24 hours of when the program first airs on television with captions).

Committee Has No Plans to Move Pallone’s Broadcaster Bill

As reported last week, U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), unveiled a draft bill, the Viewer Protection Act. This bill empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fully protect both broadcast viewers and mobile broadband users who may be affected by the upcoming Broadcast Incentive Auction by funding viewer education efforts, creating an additional $1 billion emergency fund for broadcasters and directing the FCC to create a repacking plan within six months of the conclusion of the auction.

However, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) stated that he is not on board with Pallone’s new bill. Walden, who’s generally sympathetic to broadcasters’ issues, stated that Republicans have pushed for more funding to relocate stations after the auction. “We’ve always felt that there may need to be more revenue there,” he said, but “there will be a time to deal with that after we see how the auction moves forward.”

MAB Brings 2016 SOS in HD to Members

The State of the State was carried live on air and on the websites of member television and radio stations in every market. Recently, you received an email asking for your web views during SOS and your viewership on air during SOS. We need to take every opportunity to show the superiority of broadcast media.

MAB Members at SOS 2016
from L-R: Debbie Kenyon (MAB Vice-Chair and Senior VP Market Manager CBS Radio Detroit); Karole L. White (MAB President); Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-30); Elena Palombo (MAB Government Relations Manger)

MAB is grateful to WCMU-TV Central Michigan University for providing the uplink truck staff and technical support, and WKAR for  their help booking uplink time for all of us. A big congrats to MAB’s own Dan Kelley, who handled the project expertly again this year.

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House Passes Sweeping FOIA Reform Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would create the most sweeping reforms to federal open records laws in nearly a decade. The measure would limit exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that now allow federal agencies to hold back information.

The bill would also create a single online portal for people to make FOIA requests and require agencies to publicly post frequently requested records online. The new bill, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, H.R. 653, represents the most significant push to overhaul the FOIA system since 2007. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

MAB is tracking.

Zorn Moves to Repeal Local ‘Gag Order’ From Law

State Senator Dale Zorn (R-17) submitted legislation to repeal a recently enacted prohibition on schools and local governments from providing factual information on ballot questions during the 60 days prior to the vote. Dubbed “a gag order” by schools, local governments, and media groups who lobbied Governor Snyder to veto a bill primarily dealing with campaign finance changes (SB 571, now PA 269), Zorn issued a statement saying that his bill would repeal the section of the law that has been so controversial.

When Snyder signed the bill, he called on the Legislature to swiftly pass a trailer bill, making clear the law does not infringe upon the expression of personal views by a public official or the use of resources or facilities in the ordinary course of business. MAB is tracking.