Category Archives: Legislative Update

Court Denies Use of ‘Stale’ Signatures on Petition Drive

Supporters of the petition to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state, known as fracking, lost a court battle to allow the use of “stale” signatures on their petition drive. “Stale” signatures are those older than 180 days. Court of Claims Judge Stephen Borrello ruled that the Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan had no actual controversy before the court to allow it to issue a declaratory ruling on whether signatures, older than 180 days, can be counted.

The committee had not collected enough signatures on its petitions for an initiated act to ban fracking, nor had it filed the signatures it had collected, Borrello ruled in Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan v. Director of Elections (COC docket No. 16-000122-MM).

The committee sought a ruling from the court that petition signatures collected more than 180 days before the signatures were filed, or would be filed, could still be counted. A top official for the committee said the group will appeal the decision.

Lawmaker Calls on Senate to Include Electronic Data in Constitution

capitol3State Representative Jim Runestad (R-44) called for the Michigan Senate to take action on a joint resolution extending Michigan’s constitutional prohibition against unreasonable government search and seizures to include electronic data and communications. So far, there has not been a commitment from the Senate to do so.

House Joint Resolution N passed the House in June by a vote of 107-1 but has sat on the Senate floor since the Legislature adjourned for its summer recess. The joint resolution requires warrants be used to access an individual’s electronic data and communication.

“The right of individuals to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures is fundamental, which is why it is enshrined in the U.S. and Michigan constitutions. There ought to be no difference when it comes to government searches of electronic property and physical property,” Runestad said in a statement.

MAB Continues Lawmaker Meetings

The MAB, with help from its members, continues its summer series of in-district congressional meetings.  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 deductability in any future tax reform legislation.

On August 3, we met with Congressman Tim Walberg (R-7) at his Jackson office and on August 4th we met with Congressman Dan Kildee (D-5) at his office in Flint. The Congressmen both understand the value of local broadcasters to their communities.  Congressman Walberg is a co-signer of the Local Radio Freedom Act and Congressman Kildee is taking another look and we will hopefully have him as a co-signer soon.

(L-R) Congressman Tim Walberg (R-7), Karole L. White (MAB President), Julie Koehn (President/GM, Lenawee Broadcasting Co.), Bruce Goldsen (President, Jackson Radio Works).
(L-R) Congressman Tim Walberg (R-7), Karole L. White (MAB President), Julie Koehn (President/GM, Lenawee Broadcasting Co, Adrian.) and Bruce Goldsen (President, Jackson Radio Works, Jackson).
(L-R) Al Blinke (GM WNEM-TV), Karole L. White (MAB President), Congressman Dan Kildee (D-5), Jayne Hodak (News Director WJRT-TV), Chad Conklin (GM, Sinclair WEYI/WSMH-TV).
(L-R) Al Blinke (GM, WNEM-TV, Saginaw), Karole L. White (MAB President), Congressman Dan Kildee (D-5), Jayne Hodak (News Director WJRT-TV, Flint) and Chad Conklin (GM, Sinclair WEYI/WSMH-TV, Flint).

The regional in-district Congressional meetings are paramount for our industry advocacy. The NAB counts on the state broadcast associations to help with the grassroots lobbying in this way. This is why we need your support. When you are notified of a meeting with a Congressman, please make every effort to attend, and if you can’t attend in person, please appoint someone else from your staff to attend. The Congressmen want to meet with the broadcasters in their district, not the paid staff.  Both Radio and Television need to be represented at every meeting. Unfortunately, these meetings sometimes come up quickly. The MAB will try to give you as much advanced notice as possible.

These in-district meetings are longer and have more substance than those in Washington DC, where our lawmakers have to squeeze us in to a loaded schedule with barely enough time to say hello. These meetings should be a “must attend” by every broadcaster with a station in a particular Congressional district.

Thank you to everyone who has attended so far for making the Congressional in-district meetings a priority. If you have not had the opportunity to meet with your Congressman, we hope to see you at an in-district meeting in the future. You will be notified when meeting come up in the areas your signal covers.

Second FM Translator Opportunity Open

The second translator modification window opened July 29 for AM owners. The window will close on October 31. It is open to applications to modify FM translators within the non-reserved FM band that would rebroadcast any class of AM station (including Class C and D AM stations that did not participate in the first modification window).

Applications in the window will be filed on a first come, first served basis. Meaning, if there are limited open FM channels in any market, the first AM station that obtains a translator and files for an open channel would get it. If two applications are filed for the same channel in the same area on the same day, they will be considered mutually exclusive. That mutual exclusivity can be resolved by an engineering amendment.

Read more in the Broadcast Law Blog.

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

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!

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.