The Congress passed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package to fund the federal government through September 30. The legislation includes the full $1 billion in additional funding for the broadcast repack.
Specifically, the legislation provides the $1 billion in repack funds over two fiscal years – $600 million in the current fiscal year (FY18), which runs through September 30, 2018; and $400 million in the upcoming fiscal year (FY19), which begins on October 1, 2018. These funds do not expire until 2023. Full power television reimbursements beyond the current $1.75 billion fund are eligible for receipt of these new funds, as are FM stations (including FM translators), low power television and TV translators and consumer education efforts.
The legislation directs the FCC to allocate the $600 million in FY18 funds across all four categories of eligible recipients, however it includes the following limitations: no more than $350 million to full power television, no more than $50 million to FM radio, no more than $150 million to low power television / translators, and $50 million to fund consumer education efforts. The FCC has discretion as to how to allocate the $400 million in FY19 funds.
Senate Bill 882 was reported out of the Senate Oversight Committee. This bill makes changes to the Open Meetings Act by allowing a school board to meet in a closed session to discuss safety issues involving a threat or a potential threat to the safety of the students and staff. The legislation was approved following a shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. School boards across the state support the measure, stating that it would add an extra layer of security to schools and that it is important for school officials to discuss security matters confidentially. The bill now moves to the full Senate for a vote.
Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.
By: Seth Resler Jacobs Media Strategies
Fred Jacobs: “Social media has become a part of radio’s promotional, marketing, and in some cases, sales plans. Over the past decade, its use has skyrocketed, led by the almighty Facebook. Always first in both “cume” and daily “time spent socializing” in our Techsurveys, Facebook has emerged as a go-to tool for stations, as well as personalities.”
“Our resident Digital Dot Connector – Seth Resler – has been thinking long and hard about how Facebook’s recent problems impact all of us, but also how radio broadcasters will be affected by an unsettled environment in the world’s leading social media platform. Trying to make sense out of a landscape that is now very much in flux goes to the heart of Seth’s “take” on where Facebook might be headed – and where that leaves radio.”
Recently, I was at the Michigan Association of Broadcasters’ Great Lakes Media Show in Lansing, when a social media manager told me that her radio station had seen a significant dropoff in interaction on Facebook since the social network had altered its algorithm in the wake of criticism over its role in the 2016 election.
Other radio stations have reported the same thing to me: huge declines in the number of people seeing and engaging with their content since Facebook has shifted its focus away from displaying business page content and towards personal interaction.
“How do we get more people to see our posts?” the social media manager asked me.
I don’t know.
I don’t know because Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t know.
If you’ve been following the news, you know Facebook is facing huge problems and even bigger questions at the moment. In the wake of revelations that Cambridge Analytica used the social network to gather data on millions of people and use that data to exploit political divisions, Facebook’s stock nosedived, losing nearly $5o billion in value. After several days of being MIA, Zuckerberg finally made the rounds in the media to apologize.
But Facebook’s problems go well beyond a mere public relations issue. While facts are still coming to light, it’s possible the social network was weaponized by foreign actors in an attempt to hobble the most powerful nation on the planet.
Your radio station’s decline in interaction is just one small piece of a much larger and murkier picture. Facebook will inevitably be forced to change the way it does business. In the past, they’ve never been particularly good at communicating about changes they make to their platform. Now, as the company faces pressure from angry users, investors, and government regulators, there’s no telling what they’ll do as they muddle through this mess.
One thing is sure: Whatever happens, it will impact your radio station…along with thousands of other businesses across the globe.
Of course, the rent has always been free … or at least, so it seemed. Now we’re discovering that “free” comes with a heavy price. For users, that price is a loss of privacy. For businesses, that price is an algorithm with rules that can be changed at a moment’s notice, without explanation or notification.
Over the years, our annual Techsurveys have shown that Facebook is, by far, the dominant social network used by radio listeners. So dominant, in fact, that we’ve advised many radio stations to focus the vast majority of their social media efforts on Facebook. If you had limited resources — and every radio station I know has limited resources — the smart move is to shortchange Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, and spend your time, creativity, and effort on Facebook instead.
In the wake of recent revelations, it may be time to revisit that advice. Not because we expect Facebook to lose its position as the dominant social network — although some users may abandon it out of privacy concerns — but because it may be unwise for radio stations to put all of their eggs in Zuck’s basket. It’s time for your radio station to diversify its social media efforts by increasing its investment in other channels.
Of course, to do this, you’ll need more eggs. If your radio station has been skating by with a single, less experienced staffer handling your social media strategy, it’s time to step up your game. You will need to invest serious resources into hiring, training, and tools for social media. Offer digital staffers salaries that are competitive with other industries. Send your digital staffers to training programs and conferences outside of the radio space to help them gain a competitive edge. Invest in social media management software that enables your team to successfully execute their strategy.
Because if there’s one takeaway in the current controversy, it’s that social media is an incredibly powerful communication tool — powerful enough to disrupt nations — and broadcasting companies need to treat it as seriously as they treat their airwaves.
In just a few weeks, Techsurvey 2018 will be presented, revealing new metrics that will help radio stations of all formats make these decisions. With more than 64,000 respondents in the sample, we’ll have data on more than a dozen formats that will provide guidance and direction.
For some stations, investment in other social platforms will be an effective tool for connecting to your audience. For others where Facebook has been the only portal that’s mattered, your social impact will most certainly suffer.
But as Fred reminded me, there’s always that other form of “social interaction” – street presence and eye contact with your audience. As the weather improves all over the country, this might be a good time to connect more personally with your audience.
And at least you own your station van.
For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.
With April Fools’ Day falling on a Sunday this year, perhaps the potential for on-air pranks is lessened. But, then again, who knows what weekend talent may be planning? So, as we do every year about this time, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin the fun by repeating our reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other bits prepared especially for the day. While a little fun is OK, remember that the FCC does have a rule against on-air hoaxes. While issues under this rule can arise at any time, broadcaster’s temptation to go over the line is probably highest on April 1. The FCC’s rule against broadcast hoaxes, Section 73.1217, prevents stations from running any information about a “crime or catastrophe” on the air, if the broadcaster (1) knows the information to be false, (2) it is reasonably foreseeable that the broadcast of the material will cause substantial public harm and (3) public harm is in fact caused. Public harm is defined as “direct and actual damage to property or to the health or safety of the general public, or diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties.” Air a program that fits within this definition and causes a public harm, and expect to be fined by the FCC.
This rule was adopted in the early 1990s after several incidents that were well-publicized in the broadcast industry, including one case where the on-air personalities at a station falsely claimed that they had been taken hostage, and another case where a station broadcast bulletins reporting that a local trash dump had exploded like a volcano and was spewing burning trash. In both cases, first responders were notified about the non-existent emergencies, actually responded to the notices that listeners called in, and were prevented from responding to real emergencies. In light of this sort of incident, the FCC adopted its prohibition against broadcast hoaxes. But, as we’ve reminded broadcasters before, the FCC hoax rule is not the only reason to be wary on April 1.
Beyond potential FCC liability, any station activity that could present the risk of bodily harm to a participant also raises the potential for civil liability. In cases where people are injured because first responders had been responding to the hoaxes instead of to real emergencies, stations could have faced potential liability. If some April Fools’ stunt by a station goes wrong, and someone is injured either because police, fire or paramedics are tied up responding to a false alarm, or if someone is hurt rushing to or from the scene of the non-existent calamity that was reported on a radio station, the victim will be looking for a deep pocket to sue – and broadcasters may become the target. Even a case that doesn’t result in liability can be expensive to defend and subject the station to unwanted negative publicity. So, have fun, but be careful how you do it.
David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).
There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.
As a member exclusive, the MAB is offering its members the archived recording of the March 20, 2018 webinar “You and #MeToo – Crisis Management for Media Companies Addressing Sexual Harassment Complaints” from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.
The nearly 90-minute webinar focuses on the #MeToo movement, which is now consuming media companies of all sizes, with nearly daily reports of sexual harassment charges. The media industry is hardly unique in that regard, but the impact can be greater in media, where the target of a complaint may not only be a public face of the company, but one of its principal products as well. What might be a simple employment action for other businesses can be akin to shutting down a product line for a media company.
Regardless, it is guaranteed to be a high-profile, carefully scrutinized process that is part crisis management, part employment law, and part public relations. For all involved, it can be handled well…or poorly, exposing the company to liability from complainants, accused employees and shareholders.
Gov. Rick Snyder has declared the week of April 8 through 14 Michigan’s Severe Weather Awareness Week. Broadcasters and Emergency Management partners statewide are encouraging Michiganders to conduct a statewide tornado drill at 1 p.m. ET on Wednesday, April 11.
Broadcaster participation will take place with an EAS Required Monthly Test at the 1 p.m. time on April 11. As with all RMTs, the test will remind the public that in the event of a tornado, severe weather or other emergency, official information would have followed the EAS tones.
Broadcasters are also encouraged to promote the test and their role in relaying important information to the public when severe weather strikes. This can be done on-air and through websites and social media.
On a voluntary basis, Emergency Managers may conduct a test of warning sirens and other drills. Broadcasters are encouraged to contact their local emergency management personnel to get specific details on activities happening in their communities.
Here are links to important information for broadcasters for download:
The MAB has sadly learned that WGHN (Grand Haven) afternoon News Anchor Sherry Wilson (Woelkers) has passed away at age 62 on March 22.
Wilson was a radio veteran of more than 13 years. She began her West Michigan career at WMUS (Muskegon) as an air personality, later working at WKBZ as the Public Service Director and evening personality. She left radio for a number of years, returning to work at WGHN in January of 2014 as the Afternoon Newsperson.
The station posted word of Wilson’s passing on its Facebook page, adding, “As a broadcaster, Sherry was an excellent news anchor. Born with a curious mind, she had an ability to “shake a few trees” and gather news every single day. Be it serious or silly, she always contributed something to inform or entertain the audience. She was a perfect compliment to any broadcast partner. Her encyclopedic knowledge of facts, both important and whimsical, could match any direction the conversation was steered.”
Your MAB has many exciting things happening in 2018! We are moving to a temporary location while our new building is under construction, we are launching a new website, there are Third Thursday webinars, the job bank website, legislative updates, political broadcasting webinars, Snack and Learns, celebrating 70 years of Michigan broadcasters and so much more!
If you have not paid your MAB dues, you could miss out on the many resources offered and you would not be included in the new MAB Online Directory only available to MAB Members and Associate Members.
Below is a list of the MAB members that have paid dues for 2018. Thank you so very much for your continued support of your MAB and all we do. We look forward to serving you in 2018!
(If your station is not listed, please contact Denise Weston at 517-484-7444 or [email protected]. Effective March 31, your station will lose member status and not be able to access MAB resources.)
According to a report in Inside Radio, the FCC has given an unofficial not to an NAB push for online auto ad disclosures.
“They don’t’ see any reason why we couldn’t do it,” NJBA president Paul Rotella told Inside Radio “It would improve creative and it would be actually more informative because it would direct people to a website as opposed to that ridiculous disclaimer. It would be the most intelligent thing to do in terms of full disclosure.”
The National Association of Broadcasters has proposed the rules regarding auto leases and loans be amended to make radio more advertiser-friendly, stating in a filing that the flurry of disclosures read at the end of spots has made some advertisers, particularly automobile dealers, “reluctant” to use radio as a form of advertising because so much air time is devoted to the listing of terms and conditions.
The MAB is testing a new communications service that will go out the last Monday of every month. “Your MAB 2 Minute Update” is an effort to reach the goal set by members and the MAB board in their strategic plan launched last year to apply the most advanced modern technology to disseminate MAB communications and information to our members. Please Let us know how you like it and what you’d like us to covered in our brief 2 minute updates.
The purpose is to give you the issue highlights on a monthly basis and occasional industry interviews in a brief fast paced media that will allow you to access it on your many devices. Even when you can’t stop and read the Newsletter, you can listen or watch the “MAB 2 Minute Update.” Our surveys show that many of our members rely first on the MAB for their industry information.
We can’t cover everything in two minutes, but we can remind you of what you need to know and then point you to the MAB website for more in depth information when you have more time. MAB members may go to MichMAB.com click on Advocacy for for more industry-related information, including topics highlighted in”Your MAB 2 Minute Update”
Thank you to Lila Lazarus, Lila Productions LLC for her help and assistance in putting together this new communications effort.
Be sure to watch for “Your MAB 2 Minute Update” in your inbox next week.