Category Archives: Legislative Update

NAB Continues to Oppose Introduction of ‘Next Generation Television Marketplace Act’

Congressman Steve Scalise (R-LA) plans to introduce legislation this month titled “Next Generation Television Marketplace Act.”

Even though some provisions of the act, such as the repeal of the local media ownership limits, are favorable to the broadcasters, the NAB strongly opposes the bill because it eliminates fundamental local broadcast rights such as retransmission consent and must carry obligations.

This is not the first time Congressman Scalise is attempting to introduce this bill – it was originally introduced in 2011 but had no support from the other House members.

Supreme Court Orders Arguments on Redistricting Proposal

Michigan Supreme Court ordered oral arguments in the question of whether the Voters not Politicians redistricting proposal can be put on the November ballot. The court said in its order that the two sides shall argue whether the proposal is a constitutional amendment, which can be put before the voters, or is, as opponents have argued, a change to the state Constitution that can only take place at a convention. The arguments are set for July 18.

Appeals Court: Records Held by ‘Agents’ of Public Bodies Not Subject to FOIA

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in Bisio v. Clarkston (COA docket No. 335422) that if documents are held by “agents” for a public body, such as a city attorney, the “agent” is not him/herself considered a public body that can be compelled to release documents under the Freedom of Information Act.

The judges upheld a trial court ruling granting summary judgement to the city of Clarkson in the case where Susan Bisio had sought release of documents related to a development project.

The court, in upholding the trial court’s decision, stated that because the Legislature defined public bodies and that definition does not include ‘agent’ of a public body, though it does include officials and employees of the public body.

Appeals Court Rules FOIA Denial Triggers Lawsuit Clock

The Court of Appeals, in a per curiam decision in Progress Michigan v. Attorney General has ruled last the Freedom of Information Act allows denials to be challenged in the Court of Claims, but the action must be filed within 180 days of a final determination.

Progress Michigan had asked for emails from the private accounts of 21 Department of Attorney General staff after records from an earlier request showed some instances of using their private accounts for official business. The department rejected the appeal, saying the only records it had from those accounts were exempt as attorney work product. The group first appealed to the department, which denied again, and then to the Court of Claims. Its challenge in the court, though, was not properly signed and notarized and so was dismissed. The court followed the Supreme Court’s reasoning on medical malpractice cases in finding that failure to sign the complaint was fatal and could not be cured by amending the complaint to include the proper signatures.

FCC to Consider Children’s TV Rules Changes

The FCC released a fact sheet on its proposed NPRM to revise the Children’s Television rules.  The changes, if adopted, would reduce the burden on TV stations. Specifically, the proposal recommends filing Children’s TV reports annually rather than quarterly, eliminates the requirement that stations increase the amount of children’s educational programming by an additional three hours per week for each multicast stream aired, and allows stations to air all of their children’s educational programming on multicast channels (rather than on the primary) without regard to whether those multicast streams are carried by MVPDs.

NAB Applauds MMA’s Passage from Senate Judiciary

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the Music Modernization Act (MMA) by unanimous voice vote on June 28.

The MMA includes language that will formally establish a role for Congress as the Department of Justice reviews consent decrees with the two largest performing rights organizations — ASCAP and BMI — which collectively license over 90 percent of the musical works that are played on local radio and television stations (Section 105, page 143).

“NAB strongly supports the Music Modernization Act, and applauds the efforts of Chairman Grassley, Ranking Member Feinstein, and Senators Hatch, Whitehouse and their cosponsors on this bill. This balanced legislation provides much needed reforms to the music licensing market to the benefit of songwriters, legacy recording artists, producers, digital streaming services and music users,” NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement. 

“In particular, NAB applauds the inclusion of language in today’s managers’ amendment that ensures enhanced congressional oversight of the DOJ’s announced review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees. The framework provided by these decrees is essential to a functioning music marketplace and they were comprehensively reviewed just two years ago with the DOJ concluding that their continued existence is squarely in the public interest. Any action to terminate these decrees must be preceded by Congressional action to ensure that songwriters, licensees and consumers will not be harmed. NAB looks forward to working with all Senators as the Music Modernization Act moves forward and urges its swift passage.”

NAB Files Comments with the FCC on C Band

According to the Radio World report, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering whether C Band spectrum should potentially be opened up for sharing with wireless operators.

The National Association of Broadcasters filed comments with the agency urging the agency to require supporters of the proposal to submit specific and detailed technical reports to the commission. “That is the only way to allow stakeholders to provide informed comments and analysis to guide the commission’s decision-making process,” the NAB said. Chairman Pai plans to put the item up for a vote at the July 12 open meeting.

FCC Rejects LPFM Objections against Pending FM Translator Applications

According to the Broadcast Law Blog, the FCC’s Media Bureau released a decision letter rejecting an objection filed by three groups advocating on behalf of LPFM stations against almost 1000 FM translator applications.

The grounds for the objections included claims that Section 5 of the Local Community Radio Act (LCRA), an act setting some ground rules for the relationship between LPFM stations and translators, mandated that the FCC evaluate each of these applications for its individual impact on LPFM opportunities in the future. Once the objection was rejected, the FCC resumed processing of pending applications.

The Audio Division noted that the Section 5 of the LCRA, which says that translators and LPFMs are equal in status and that the FCC needed to provide opportunities for each of those classes of stations, did not apply to evaluations of modifications of existing translators, but instead only to applications for new translators.

Whitmer Airs First TV Ads

Gretchen Whitmer

According to a report in MIRS, the “Build a Better Michigan” committee launched an ad across the state featuring Democratic gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer. This is the first series of ads for Whitmer who, according to the recent polls, does not have the name recognition with the voters. The committee is running the ads for the next five weeks. The ads began airing statewide on both broadcast and cable TV with the first week broadcasts focused on the Detroit, Grand Rapids and Flint television markets.