Category Archives: July 2016

Advocacy Conference Early-Rate Deadlines Approaching

Don’t miss the speakers at this year’s Advocacy Conference and Annual Meeting, August 22-23 at Crystal Mountain Resort.  Register today to take advantage of discounted room rates at Crystal Mountain (through this Friday, July 21) as well as early-bird conference rates (through July 31).

MAB members will hear policy and advocacy updates as well as attend the MAB Annual Meeting. The evening activities include the banquet, featuring the Michigan Broadcasting Hall of Fame inductions, Lifetime Achievement Award and the MAPB Public Media Impact Awards.

Speakers at this year’s conference include:

Rob Elhenicky
Partner and MAB Lobbyist
Kelley Cawthorne

Ed Fernandez
VP/Divisional General Manager
E.W. Scripps

Rick Kaplan
General Counsel and Executive VP
Legal and Regulatory Affairs
National Association of Broadcasters

David Oxenford
Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

John D. Pirich
Honigman Miller Schwartz and Cohen LLP

Register NOW and Save: Registration

Early-Bird Registration (before 7/31/17)
Member-Full Conference $140
Member- Annual Business Meeting &
Sessions Only $0
Member- Reception/Banquet Only $140
Non-Member- Full Conference $170
Non-Member- Reception/Banquet Only $170
MABF Golf Fundraiser $150

The MAB has secured a discounted group room rate at Crystal Mountain Resort. Part of the charm of this location is the variety of lodging room types available. Click here for a description of the rooms.

Reserve your discounted room at Crystal Mountain by calling the Reservations Department at 855-520-2974 or by clicking here.

Hotel Room Discount Deadline: July 21

See the schedule of events here: Schedule

Questions? Contact Jennifer at

Associate Member Highlight: The Michigan Association of School Boards

PrintThe Michigan Association of School Boards is a voluntary, nonprofit association of local and intermediate boards of education located throughout the State of Michigan.  Their membership is comprised of 600+ boards of education, representing nearly all public school districts in the state.

MASB Executive Director Don Wotruba

MASB was officially organized in 1949 to advance the quality of public education in our state, promote high standards in providing educational programs, help school board members keep informed about education issues, represent the interests of boards of education and promote public understanding about school boards and citizen involvement in our schools. The Association’s first statewide conference was held in the fall of 1948, prior to MASB’s legal incorporation April 19, 1949.

The mission of the Michigan Association of School Boards is to provide quality educational leadership services for all Michigan boards of education, and to advocate for student achievement and public education.

MASB’s Brand – MASB had identified five characteristics by which it would like to be defined. These characteristics represent what they want to be as an association and what they seek to deliver to their members.

  • Value and Quality—Our priority will be delivering outstanding, quality service driven by the needs of our members that is of high value to all Michigan boards of education.
  • Influential Leadership—We will demonstrate influential leadership through unrelenting advocacy for our cause, perceived clout among education, legislative, government and community leaders and achieved results of our public policy initiatives.
  • Trust-Based Relationships—The quality of our relationships with our colleagues at MASB, with our members and with others who have a stake in the future of Michigan’s education system, will be based on trust and supported by ongoing, open communication.
  • Visionary Thinking—Awareness of the larger, evolving context in which we work will be at the forefront of continual assessment and planning, ensuring that MASB strategies and actions are progressive and that we anticipate the long-term implications of our work.
  • Agile Operations—Our systems, processes and procedures will be designed for adaptability and flexibility, enabling timely, effective action that meets the evolving needs of our constituents and facilitates accomplishment of our vision and goals.

Fun facts about MASB:

  • MASB’s current Executive Director, Don Wotruba, started as an intern with the association.
  • One quarter of MASB’s membership changes every two years with the November election. In 2016, there are approximately 1,600 school board seats up for election and at least half of those seats will be filled with new school board members.
  • State Superintendent, Brian Whiston, was a school board member (Waterford School District).
  • Currently, the longest serving school board member has served 45 years…and there are three of them (the longest serving school board member in the history of MASB served for 58 years).
  • Almost all public schools in Michigan are members of MASB.

Visit their website here.

Get Your Golf On & Support The MABF!

The Inn at St. John's

Wednesday, August 31, 2016, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
The Inn at St. John’s, Plymouth Michigan

Par-tee with the MAB Foundation at this year’s Golf Fundraiser, which supports our young broadcasters, the future of our business!

Your golf experience is sure to be fun and offer an excellent networking opportunity! Join friends and industry colleagues in helping to support the MAB Foundation and broadcast scholarships, internships and education for the future of our industry, while having a great time golfing and enjoying a beautiful day!

Cost is $150 per golfer and includes: 18-holes of golf, cart, box lunch, refreshments, awards presentation and green fees.

Your company can show even greater support of young people seeking a career in broadcasting by sponsoring this event. Several sponsorship options are available, please contact us and we’ll design a sponsorship opportunity just for you!

Help support the future of our industry and have a great time too! Now that’s a hole-in-one!

For more details and to register click here.

Questions? Contact Alisha or Rachel at 800-YOUR-MAB.

MAPB Announces Public Media Impact Award

BuckyLove_300The Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters (MAPB) is pleased to announce the 2016 Public Media Impact Award Donor Recipient, Ms. Bucky Love. Bucky Love has a heart for, and has given from the heart, to WGVU Public Media for over 30 years – her nonprofit of choice when it comes to a champion for the arts and music. Her passion for WGVU extends first and foremost to the music the station is synonymous with, and which she helps to nourish with the Bucky M Love WGVU Music Endowment Fund. In addition, Bucky gives generously to WGVU on a heartfelt basis to help fund a variety of educational initiatives and has provided more than one lead gift to WGVU to acquire much needed production equipment.

Bucky’s love of music and sense of responsibility to give back to the community both started at a very early age influenced by her father Michael, who enjoyed singing in his native Slovenian language.

The MAPB Public Media Impact Award will be presented at the MAB/MAPB Awards Banquet, Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at The Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth.  For more information or to register, click here.

Editorial: How Your Radio Station Can (Properly) Hijack Twitter Hashtags

Seth Resler
Seth Resler

By: Seth Resler
Jacobs Media Strategies


Many social networks, notably Twitter, use hashtags to make it easy for people to find tweets related to a specific topic. A hashtag is simply a keyword or phrase preceded by a # to indicate what the tweet is about. Hashtags are often used by event organizers to allow attendees to follow what other attendees are saying about the event. Here are some examples:

    • The 2016 Worldwide Radio Summit used #WWRS16
    • The 2016 Podcast Movement Conference used #PM16
    • Conclave 41 used #Concave41

Sometimes, people try and hijack hashtags, tapping into the popularity of a trending topic and using it to push people to something else. For example, somebody might tweet out a link to an ad for their dietary supplement using the hashtag for the Grammys in the hopes of attracting some errant clicks. This spammy technique is frowned upon. Not only does it annoy people, but it isn’t particularly effective for the hijacker either.

However, there is a benign way that your radio station can hijack hashtags — particularly hashtags for local events. Here’s how:

1. Identify popular local hashtags.
First, you’ll need to figure out which hashtags you want to hijack. You want to find hashtags that are being used a lot in your market, but not beyond your market. Don’t try to hijack national or international hashtags; if the hashtag is too popular, you’ll get lost in all the noise. Besides, you only care if local people see your tweets because they’re the only ones who can tune into your station.

There are a few ways to identify local hashtags. If there are big venues in the area, such as a convention center, concert arena, or college campus, check their websites for a calendar of events. That calendar will often link out to webpages for each event. On the event webpage, find a link to the event organizer’s Twitter account and check their Twitter stream for any hashtags about the upcoming event. You can also look for event calendars on the local newspaper, TV stations, city magazines, or even other radio stations and then find event hashtags in the same way.

Another way to find local hashtags is to use a site like, which lets you zero in on the hashtags in a particular area. If you find a hashtag and you don’t know what it references, you can look it up on a site like

Create a spreadsheet with a running list of any hashtags that are likely to recur again in the future, such as hashtags used for annual events. This will make it easier for you to hijack hashtags in the future.

2. Create a piece of web content that will interest followers of the hashtag and tweet it.
The more relevant you can make your content to the hashtag followers, the better. For example, if there’s an arts and wine festival in your town using the hashtag #ArtsAndWine2016, here are some pieces of content that you may want to consider:

  • A preview of the event
  • An interview with the organizer or exhibitors
  • A guide to the event, including info on parking, prices, etc.

Of course, you may not be able to create an original piece of content for every event that uses a hashtag, so you may want to focus on a few of the biggest events. For smaller events with hashtags, it’s useful to have some broader but still relevant content on standby. For example, you could create a list of “5 Restaurants Every Visitor to Portland Should Try” or “5 Things You Didn’t Know About the City of Omaha.” Tweet out a link to this content with the appropriate hashtag when #ComicCon2016, the #WarpedTour, or the #NursesConvention comes to town.

The most important thing is to post a link to content that is both compelling and relevant. Otherwise, you’re just being spammy.

3. Measure the results.
Be sure to use a link shortening service that provides analytics, such as or Hootsuite’s, when you tweet out your content. This way, you’ll be able to track how many people clicked on the link to your content. You’ll also want to look at your Google Analytics to see how many people came to your content by way of Twitter. These two numbers should be in the same ballpark.

At first, it will be difficult to tell if a piece of content works or doesn’t work because of the hashtag or the content itself, but if you experiment over time, you should be able to get a feel for what produces the best results. For example, you may find that restaurant suggestions work but city trivia does not. Or you may find that the hashtags for events with more attendees work much better than events with less attendees. Adjust your hashtag hijacking strategy accordingly.

Hashtags are a very useful way to keep tabs on what’s going on in your market and attract traffic back to your radio station’s website. Get into the conversation!

For more assistance on digital or social media, contact MAB Member Services at [email protected] or 1-800-968-7622.

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of the above article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.


Editorial: The Looming Engineering Age Crisis

Chris Tarr

By: Chris Tarr, CSRE, DRB, CBNE

Broadcast companies are standing on the train tracks, watching a train from a mile away making its way towards them. “Boy, that thing’s going to kill us! Should we jump? Should we run? Well, I’m pretty busy…I sure hope someone pushes us out of the way before the train hits us!”

And that’s how the end will be. The surprise? The train isn’t “new media” or the internet.

The train is our inability to act.

There’s something we’ve been talking about in the industry for years – it’s the lack of new Engineering and Technical talent. We all know the problem is there. We know that it’s already a big problem. The issue is we keep waiting for someone to do something about it.

We need to act. We need to do it now.

I know of two small market stations that were off the air for an entire day. One of them was repaired and put back on the air at full power. The other was patched up and ran at 20% power for almost two weeks. How do I know this? Because I’m the reason they were hobbled for so long. You see, I have a full time job managing the technical operations for six large market stations. Those are my primary responsibility. The two small stations have no engineer. The only contract guy in the area retired several years ago. I got a call from the station owner one morning after one of them went off the air. He told me there was nobody else to call. I helped him out, and agreed to do what I could until he found a local engineer. Two years later, he’s still looking. So, when those stations recently went down, they had to sit until I was done with my primary responsibilities and could get them back together. It killed me knowing that this small business owner was losing money and that he had to wait until I could get there.

That story is not unusual. I turn down all but dire emergency work these days. I tell people that I have more money than time. They’re always willing to pay whatever I’d demand, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that I only have so many hours in the day.

So how did we get here? It’s pretty simple, really. Before deregulation, each station (or market AM/FM) had their own engineer. Many of them were radio operators in the military and received excellent training. They came back home and settled in to radio careers. They lived in the back office, fixing cart machines and unclogging toilets. Engineers needed to be licensed, so there were technical schools with training programs turning out newly-minted license holders. Things were good. Then, consolidation and deregulation. Stations no longer needed to have an FCC licensed, full-time engineer on staff. It was left to them to decide what worked best. Soon you had one or two engineers for half the stations in a market. Many engineers used that “opportunity” to retire. Others tried it and simply burned out.

Time marched on and technology improved. Now with today’s tech, it’s not so hard to juggle multiple stations. Sure, we added computers to the mix, but we also added IT staff. The balance shifted – it was no longer enough to know electronics and RF. You needed to know computers and IT. More engineers took this “opportunity” to retire, while many others took on the challenge and learned and grew their skills. Meanwhile, since there was no longer a requirement for engineers to be licensed, the smart schools did a pivot and changed their curriculum from Engineering and Electronics to IT. There was (and is) a huge demand for IT staff, so they followed the money.

For a while, nobody noticed. Many of the retired engineers moved into contract positions, becoming “firemen” who came by whenever things broke. The smaller stations enjoyed the savings, at the expense of the routine maintenance that a full-time engineer provided.

Then, the wheels started to fall off.

A significant portion of those original engineers have either passed on or are well into their 80’s. The younger ones who were still doing contract work are now retiring in staggering numbers. Meanwhile, nobody has been turning out new engineers. The younger guys who were mentored by these original professionals are now getting snapped up by the larger broadcasting companies and are being well compensated in an effort to keep them.

This still leaves a few significant problems. First, the smaller stations can’t afford an experienced engineer. The salary competition can be fierce. Second, the “younger guys” aren’t that young any more. I fall into that category, and I’m 46!

So what do we do?

It’s a multi-faceted problem, but here are the broad strokes. First off, it’s a discipline that few are aware of. You’d be surprised how many people have no clue that there are technical people making the transmitter work. It’s very much “out of sight, out of mind”. So there is a definite “marketing” problem.

Second, and this is a biggie, we compete with just about everyone for talent. Ask yourself – why would you take a job in radio, with 24/7 on-call requirements, lower pay, requests to fix plumbing, etc., when you can be a 9 to 5 desk jockey?

Third is training. How do we teach the next generation the skills that they’ll need? Transmitter and RF basics, radio automation, management…the list goes on. There isn’t much in the way of broadcast engineering training out there.

Finally, there’s the baggage. You likely know what I’m talking about. Broadcast engineers have historically had a (in some cases well deserved) reputation for being the odd guy who works strange hours and acts like a mad scientist. They are often looked at as one notch above the janitor, instead of the technology professional that they are. Look at the companies that “get it” – Emmis’s Paul Brenner who developed NextRadio and iHeartMedia’s Jeff Littlejohn who perfected iHeartRadio. These are engineering professionals who were given a seat at the management table and did big things for their employers. They work for companies that recognize and reward their technical staff the same way they do their sales and programming staff. That’s something that’s very attractive for a young technical professional who is thinking about career paths.

So I’ve laid out some of the issues. Now it’s time to start solving the problem. This isn’t a one person, one organization solution. It’s going to take all of broadcast media’s stakeholders working together to make it happen. I envision manufacturers teaching courses (I got a lot out of Harris’s “Broadcast Technology Training Center” back in the day), organizations like SBE, NAB and state broadcast associations recruiting and promoting, broadcast companies taking a hard look at how they handle their technical staff and we as engineers making sure that we continue to do our best to bring value to the table for our employers. We all need to put our heads together and come up with a coordinated effort, working in concert to open up the pipeline to recruit and retain technical talent.

Otherwise the next time a station goes off the air, it may be forever.

Have a suggestion or an idea to help raise awareness within the industry? You can contact me at [email protected].

Chris Tarr, CSRE, DRB, CBNE is the Director of Technical Operations for Entercom’s Wisconsin stations. He is one of the industry’s biggest evangelists, and dedicates himself to helping create great radio.

The piece originally appeared on and has been reprinted with permission of the author.  

Editorial: A Good Faith Disconnect on Retrans

Scott_Flick_300By: Scott R. Flick,
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

There is an old vaudeville routine I’ve found more useful for understanding lawmaking in Washington than any textbook.  It goes something like this:

(Scene: a nighttime street corner illuminated by a single streetlight; a short man (Joe) is frantically searching for something near the base of the streetlight when a tall man (Bill) enters from stage left.)

Bill:  Hi Joe.  Did you lose something?

Joe:  I was buying a hot dog at the cart down the street, and when he was giving me my change, I dropped a quarter.

Bill:  Well if you dropped it down the street, why are you looking here?

Joe:  Cause the light’s better here.

When constituents are unhappy, no matter the cause, they make sure their representatives in Congress know it.  In turn, a good politician knows that the worst possible response is to say there really isn’t anything government can do to fix the problem.  So the legislator promises to take immediate action to remedy the constituent’s complaint.  Often, however, the constituent’s issue lacks a governmental solution, or the only solution would create yet worse problems.

As a result, the desire to demonstrate responsiveness leads to legislation that does nothing to actually solve the constituent’s problem and sometimes makes matters worse.  However, as long as the legislation relates in some way to the subject matter of the complaint, the legislator can claim to have addressed the needs of his or her constituents.  Rather than face the difficult task of explaining the complexities of the issue to constituents and why the system is working as intended (or at least better than any of the available alternatives), legislators will search for an irrelevant solution where “the light’s better.”

I was reminded of this last week by an exception that proves the rule.  Chairman Wheeler announced the FCC would terminate without further action its congressionally-mandated review of the Commission’s rule requiring that parties to retransmission consent negotiate in good faith.  Congress had urged the review in response to heavy lobbying from the cable and satellite TV industries for changes to the retransmission consent regime, as well as in response to complaints from viewers frustrated by their pay TV provider’s programming disruptions.  Specifically, Congress directed the FCC to “commence a rulemaking to review its totality of the circumstances test for good faith negotiations under clauses (ii) and (iii) of section 325(b)(3)(C) of the Communications Act of 1934.”

To understand this mandate requires going back to 1999, when Congress passed the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act (“SHVIA”).  SHVIA changed copyright law to allow satellite TV systems to retransmit local TV stations, putting satellite TV on an equal competitive footing with cable TV for the first time.  Cable operators had been retransmitting local TV stations for decades, but the lack of a broad compulsory copyright license for satellite providers meant that most subscribers were ineligible to receive broadcast programming via satellite.

Given the monopolistic power of most local cable systems at the time, there was a concern that cable operators would apply pressure on local stations to withhold retransmission rights from satellite providers to preserve cable TV’s continued stranglehold on the programming most desired by pay TV subscribers.  To address this fear, Congress included in SHVIA a provision that would “prohibit a television broadcast station that provides retransmission consent from . . . failing to negotiate in good faith ….”  That the purpose of this requirement was not managing the negotiations themselves, but ensuring that all new entrants, including satellite TV, had an opportunity to negotiate for broadcast programming, was made clear by three associated facts.

First is that good faith negotiation was strangely required of only the broadcaster; the pay TV provider had no such obligation.  This imbalance of rights would have been unthinkable had the purpose of the good faith obligation been to ensure fair negotiations, but it made sense where broadcast programming was in such high demand that requiring pay TV providers to engage in negotiations with local TV stations seemed entirely unnecessary.

Second, Congress emphasized in the legislative history that the point of the good faith obligation was to ensure that TV stations could not flatly refuse to negotiate, or, if forced to negotiate, could not just engage in sham negotiations aimed only at preventing a retransmission deal.  The Joint Explanatory Statement of the Committee of Conference clarified that the point of the good faith requirement was to prevent a TV station from refusing to negotiate in good faith regarding retransmission consent agreements. A television station may generally offer different retransmission consent terms or conditions, including price terms, to different distributors. The [Commission] may determine that such different terms represent a failure to negotiate in good faith only if they are not based on competitive marketplace considerations.

In other words, a TV station must show up to negotiate, and if the pay TV provider can demonstrate that it is a sham negotiation (because the station is making crazy asks not based on “competitive market considerations”), then the station has failed to meet its “show up and negotiate” obligation.

Third, if there were any doubt as to the target of Congress’s concern, it was dispelled by Section 1009(a)(2) of SHVIA, which prohibited “a television broadcast station that provides retransmission consent from engaging in exclusive contracts” with pay TV providers.  Congress wanted to make sure that TV stations would not favor incumbent cable TV systems by contractually or otherwise preventing themselves from dealing with new entrants interested in retransmitting broadcast programming.

Ultimately, Congress’s concern that new entrants might be categorically denied the opportunity to negotiate for retransmission rights turned out to be unfounded.  As I wrote here a few years ago, broadcasters had long been wary of local cable monopolies and, far from refusing to negotiate, TV stations welcomed the new entrants with open arms.  It turned out to be a good approach, as the concerted refusal by the cable TV industry to pay to retransmit broadcast programming collapsed a few years later when the addition of local TV programming made satellite TV an effective competitor to cable.

But things started to go astray when the FCC drafted rules to implement SHVIA.  As Congress felt that “show up and negotiate in good faith” wasn’t complicated, it didn’t bother to define “negotiate in good faith” in SHVIA.  Following the precept that any straightforward statute can be made complicated through implementing regulations, the FCC struggled to craft a precise definition of “good faith” for its regulations.  Unfortunately, rather than accept the “show up and negotiate” standard Congress seems to have intended, the Commission looked to labor law for guidance on “good faith negotiations.”  Labor contracts, however, present a much different circumstance, with management usually having far more power in such negotiations than any retrans negotiator on either side of the table.  For example, if a TV station finds itself unable to reach terms with a cable system operator, it can’t just fire the operator and place a more amenable party in charge of the cable system.  As a result, both parties to a retrans negotiation have an incentive to work together to reach an agreement.

The result of the FCC’s approach was a multi-part set of negotiating restrictions composed of “per se” prohibitions on certain specific negotiating practices and an overarching “totality of the circumstances” test in case the specific prohibitions missed anything.  Far from Congress’s simple “show up and negotiate” mandate, some of these specific restrictions turned retransmission negotiations into an elaborate and unpredictable dance to which the FCC was invited.

For example, one of the FCC’s good faith prohibitions is on putting forth “a single, unilateral proposal.”  This requirement has the perverse effect of preventing parties from merely presenting their bottom line in negotiations, and instead forces them to argue for more than they are actually seeking so they can demonstrate some “give” before reaching their bottom line lest they be accused of having presented a single unilateral proposal.  The result is longer, more complex negotiations with greater confusion and uncertainty, actually increasing the chance of negotiations breaking down before reaching a conclusion.

However, that impact is de minimis compared to the ethereal claim that the “totality of circumstances” indicates a party is negotiating in bad faith.  Negotiations fail when one or both parties overestimate their position, and while experienced negotiators are usually pretty astute at assessing the economics and leverage of a negotiation and generating a contract efficiently, uncertainty fundamentally changes that equation.  It’s the equivalent of introducing jokers to a poker deck—when that long shot of drawing the card needed to fill an inside straight seems more plausible, the player becomes more willing to draw out the betting to take that chance.  Parties are quick to convince themselves that the FCC will take their side in a good faith complaint (or at least that the other party can be threatened with such a complaint), introducing a variable to the negotiations that interferes with orderly progress toward a deal.  The party convinces itself that it might draw a joker from the FCC’s deck, and shifts its focus to posturing for an FCC fight rather than slogging through the negotiations to reach a deal.

It became clear by 2004 that the FCC’s good faith rules had themselves become a source of substantive leverage in negotiations, complicating rather than simplifying efforts to reach a deal.  As a result, that year broadcasters demanded that the good faith requirement apply to both parties, and Congress changed the law accordingly.

By complicating negotiations, the good faith rules made the failure of retrans negotiations more likely without any apparent upside.  A lot of parties wasted a lot of time prosecuting good faith petitions at the FCC (and much more time was wasted posturing for good faith complaints that were never filed), but only one ever led to a finding of bad faith.

That was a petition I filed against a cable system that refused to negotiate because it also refused to stop carrying the broadcaster’s programming when the retransmission agreement expired.  The case is either a vindication of Congress’s “just show up” view of good faith negotiations, or a demonstration that good faith regulations are entirely unnecessary.  The potential copyright liability for the cable system’s unauthorized retransmission was nearly a billion dollars.  Since copyright litigation can be expensive, however, and the only result would be the broadcaster ending up owning the cable system, a good faith petition was the quickest and most efficient way of resolving the pirating of the programming.  It could have been resolved in the courts; it just would have been more expensive.

Unfortunately, even Congress seems to have lost sight of the original purpose of the good faith requirement.  Instead of ensuring that new pay TV entrants have an opportunity to seek local TV station programming, many in Congress now see good faith requirements as a solution for, rather than a cause of, breakdowns in retrans negotiations.  Congress’s 2014 request that the Commission review its totality of the circumstances test no longer focused on good faith requirements as an aid to new entrants, but as a response to constituent complaints about programming disruptions.  In the associated Senate Commerce Committee Report, the Committee expressed concern that TV stations and pay TV providers were engaging in tactics that “push [retransmission consent] negotiations toward a breakdown and result in consumer harm from programming blackouts.”  The Committee added that it “expects the FCC’s totality of the circumstances test to include a robust examination of negotiating practices, including whether certain substantive terms offered by a party may increase the likelihood of the negotiations breaking down.”  Now it was apparently irrelevant whether the terms were based on “competitive marketplace considerations”, but merely whether they made the breakdown of negotiations more likely.

So, to appease disgruntled constituents lacking a TV antenna, legislators encouraged the FCC to actually increase regulatory uncertainty in retrans negotiations.  Rather than accepting that there is little connection between extensive good faith regulations and preventing program disruptions, legislators doubled down—gathering around the “good faith” streetlight where the light is better and life seems simpler.

All of which is an extremely roundabout way of getting to why I was pleased to see a moment of mental clarity last week amid all of this good faith harrumphing.  Within Chairman Wheeler’s blog post announcing the decision to conclude the FCC’s review was a rare acknowledgement of a truth that has gone unspoken in Washington for too long: “Though commenters complained about a variety of negotiating practices, none showed that those practices are the causes of the blackouts that occur.”  While he was referring specifically to the pointlessness of expanding further the list of good faith negotiating restrictions, the statement applies with equal force to most of the current good faith rules.  It’s not that anyone is particularly interested in engaging in bad faith negotiations; it’s just that when a major point of retrans negotiations becomes about posturing for the FCC rather than reaching a deal, program disruptions from failed negotiations will be more likely, not less likely, to happen.  As it turns out, standing next to the streetlight is better for reading than for getting good television reception.

Jacobs Media to Present Free Webinar

This Thursday (7/28), Jacobs Media will present a FREE webinar titled: “Facebook Live for Radio Broadcasters.”  How can your radio station use the new Facebook Live feature to connect with its audience? Jacobs Media Strategies’ “Digital Dot Connector,” Seth Resler, will introduce you to Facebook Live and offer best practices for using this tool. Learn how you can use it to promote and brand your station.

Register for the webinar here.

Television Broadcasters Reminded to File Cable Royalty Claims

NABThe National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) reminds television broadcasters broadcasters, whose signals were carried as distant signals by at least one cable system in 2015, that they must file a claim with the Copyright Royalty Board no later than August 1, 2016.

If a station fails to file within this time frame, it cannot collect any royalties for 2015.

Broadcasters can file claims online through the Copyright Office’s website. Details on how to file a claim are provided in an NAB Counsel Memo, available here. For further assistance, contact NAB’s legal counsel: Ann Mace at (202) 624-2711 or Suzanne Head at (202) 429-5302.