Category Archives: Legislative Update

MSC Rules Police Held Harmless For Lying In Certain Circumstances

MIsupremeIn a unanimous opinion issued by the Michigan Supreme Court (MSC), the panel of judges held that police officers, regardless of whether they lie, cannot be charged criminally from an involuntary statement. The court, acting in People v. Harris (SC docket No. 149872), overturned a decision by the Court of Appeals. The case examined whether three Detroit officers could be charged with obstruction of justice after lying in an internal investigation about whether one of them, Officer Nevin Hughes, assaulted a person while on duty. The issue was whether the Disclosures by Law Enforcement Officers Act (DLEOA) rendered the charge invalid. The DLEOA protects officers making “involuntary statements,” meaning information provided at the threat of any employment sanction, from use in a subsequent criminal proceeding.

In an opinion authored by Justice Brian Zahra, the Supreme Court held that the law’s intent was to allow officers to provide information during internal investigations, seemingly with immunity from prosecution to encourage truthfulness, although this seems to have caused the opposite to occur in this instance, noted Justice Zahra.

FAA Finalizes Small Drone Rules

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized and made public its first of its kind rules for Small UAS (drone) operation, which will go into effect in 60 days. As a result, drone use within the parameters outlined in the rule can be conducted legally without special permission from the FAA. Although the rule does not provide relief from every restriction over which the National Association of Braodcasters (NAB) raised concerns – flights over people, night operations, visual line-of-site operation, in particular – it establishes a separate process by which individual users can obtain waivers for these uses.

The NAB will circulate broader guidance once they have completed a thorough review of the rule, which is more than 600 pages in length.  In the meantime, below is a high-level summary of drone use covered by this rule.

  • Maximum weight: 55 pounds.
  • Maximum altitude: 400 feet above ground level (but, may operate over a structure if it remains within 400 feet of the structure and does not operate over 400 feet above the structure).
  • Maximum speed: 87 knots/100 mph.
  • Minimum age of operator: 16.
  • Operations may only be conducted during daytime.
  • Operations may only be conducted within the visual line of sight.
  • Operations over people permitted only over those participating in the operation.
  • Transportation of property for compensation or hire permitted, as long as the total weight is no more than 55 pounds and the operation is conducted within a state.
  • Part 61 pilot certificate holders can take an online training course; others will take an aeronautical knowledge test at a designated FAA center.
  • Uses for which waivers are available: Operations from moving vehicle, visual line of sight, operations near aircraft, operations near people, operating limitations for altitude and ground speed, minimum visibility, minimum distance from clouds, daylight operations, visual observer operations of multiple UAS.

EAS Comments Filed By State Broadcast Associations

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters, along with other broadcaster associations representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, recently filed Joint Comments in the FCC’s rulemaking proceeding regarding proposed changes to the Emergency Alert System. We pointed out how state broadcasters associations played an important role in the effort to pass a federal statute authorizing the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), and how broadcasters and State Emergency Communications Committees (SECCs) are committed and critical stakeholders in our nation’s emergency alerting network. A broad theme of our comments was the need for EAS issues to be addressed at the state and local levels where possible, giving SECCs and EAS participants the necessary discretion to make decisions that work for their respective communities. Some of the specific points included in the comments were:

  1. The state broadcaster associations objected to proposals claiming to enhance the security of the EAS network, but which would in fact impose unreasonable burdens on broadcasters, such as requiring broadcasters to notify the FCC of security breaches (e.g., the unauthorized triggering of an alert) within 15-30 minutes. We pointed out that imposing such burdens could have a chilling effect on full participation by broadcasters in EAS.
  2. The state broadcaster associations urged the FCC to adopt rules requiring cable systems to implement “selective override” for TV broadcast stations, which would prevent cable set-top boxes from automatically tuning all channels during an EAS alert to a cable channel providing only generic information about the emergency situation. Without a selective override requirement, TV stations which provide up to the minute news and weather reports during emergency and severe weather situations will continue to be subject to having their signals automatically blocked by cable operators at the very time when detailed emergency or weather information is most needed.
  3. The state broadcaster associations supported the idea of allowing broadcasters, at their discretion, to perform live code EAS testing without the need for FCC waivers, to use EAS tones in PSAs, and to use WEA (Wireless Emergency Alert) tones in news reports designed to inform the public about WEA, (subject to safeguards) to assure that such codes do not trigger alerts downstream.
  4. The state broadcaster associations questioned a proposal to bring social media and other non-broadcast/cable platforms into the EAS network, arguing that those platforms, in many cases are still evolving, and are of uncertain reliability and utility as sources for distributing alerts.
  5. The state broadcaster associations cautioned the FCC against adopting any “one-size-fits-all” template for State EAS Plans which would impair the flexibility of SECCs to tailor plans to their own respective states’ needs, or which would impose unreasonable burdens on the SECCs that would have to rewrite their plans to fit such a template. We also cautioned the FCC generally about adopting proposals which would increase the burdens on SECCs, as they are typically volunteer organizations with limited resources.

Download the FCC filing here.

Group Seeks OTT Equality

According to the report in TVNewsCheck, the TV Neutrality Alliance, a coalition of over-the-top (OTT) service providers and broadcasters, filed comments with the FCC urging the commission to act on its proposal to classify online video distributors (OVDs) of broadcast station signals as multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs).

The Alliance proposed a modification to the MVPD definition to promote equal access to online broadcast content and recommends language to protect online streaming video services from unintentional FCC regulations while ensuring broadcaster rights to retransmission consent.

NAB Asks FCC to Scrap Newspaper-Broadcast Cross-Ownership Ban

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) has filed ex parte comments with the FCC urging changes to what it termed the “inequitable” broadcast ownership rules. The NAB called for the elimination of the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership prohibition, citing the Third Circuit’s statement that the ban remains in place “even though the FCC determined more than a decade ago that it is no longer in the public interest.” The NAB argues that the ban “affirmatively harms localism,” and is no longer necessary.

The NAB also called for reform of the local TV ownership rules to loosen the restrictions on duopolies by eliminating the eight-voices test and top-four station restriction.

Democrats Reserve $600K in TV Time in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District

The House Majority PAC, a pro-Democratic Party political action committee (PAC), announced that it is reserving over $600,000 in early airtime in the Northern Michigan’s 1st Congressional district. This round of buys includes $214,294 in the Marquette media market and $378,428 in Traverse City.

The PAC also previously purchased $220,148 in TV advertising time in the Green Bay media market, which covers part of the western U.P.

To claim majority in the U.S. House, Democrats must capture at least 30 seats, which would include clearing nearly all the seats they are slated to win in November and some Republican lean seats. The Democrats’ preferred candidate in the race to replace retiring U.S. Congressman Dan Benishek’s open seat is former Michigan Democratic Party chairman Lon Johnson. The 1st Congressional district includes the Upper Peninsula and northern Lower Peninsula.

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 [email protected] 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.