Category Archives: October 2016

September FCC Open Meeting Items

via Rick Kaplan, General Counsel and Executive Vice President, Legal and Regulatory Affairs, National Association of Broadcasters

There are two items of particular note for broadcasters from the September 29 FCC open meeting. The first, the FCC’s proposal designed to open up the MVPD set-top box marketplace, actually did not result in a vote. While the Chairman had adjusted his initial proposal substantially to meet a number of objections (including from NAB), Commissioner Rosenworcel apparently was still not comfortable with where the draft order was at the time of the meeting, so the Chairman was forced to pull it from the agenda. Commissioner Clyburn supports the Chairman and the two Republican Commissioners whom oppose his plan. The item remains under consideration, although it’s not clear if it will be voted soon or if it will linger for some time.

One proposal that did come to fruition that is a “plus” for broadcasters is the FCC’s order modifying its broadcast foreign ownership rules and policies. While the full text of the order has not yet been released, the meeting presentation and press release indicate that the changes adopted today will permit broadcasters to seek approval for foreign investment using the streamlined processes that are in place for other communications outlets and also will simplify the requirements for compliance with the foreign ownership limits. Below are some of the key modifications adopted:

Foreign Ownership Approval Process

  • Broadcasters can use the same procedures for obtaining approval for foreign investment that have been available to wireless licensees since 2013. The approval process involves the filing of a “Petition for Declaratory Ruling” under Section 310(b)(4).
  • Broadcasters can now file Petitions seeking Commission approval for:
    • up to and including 100 percent aggregate foreign ownership of its controlling U.S. parent;
    • a proposed, controlling foreign investor to increase its equity and/or voting interests in the U.S. parent up to and including 100 percent at some future time without filing a new petition—this applies where the foreign investor would acquire an initial controlling interest of less than 100 percent; and
    • a non-controlling foreign investor named in the petition to increase its equity and/or voting interests in the U.S. parent at some future time, up to and including a non-controlling 49.99 percent equity and/or voting interest.
  • Broadcasters are only required to disclose in their in Petitions for Declaratory Ruling those parties that hold attributable interests.

Calculating Compliance

  • Publicly traded broadcasters are no longer expected to conduct shareholder surveys.
  • Publicly traded broadcasters are now expected to use “reasonable” measures to assess the citizenship of reasonably identifiable shareholders.
  • The Commission has eliminated its existing presumption that all unidentifiable shareholders are wholly foreign. Rather, where citizenship is not and cannot reasonably be known, the Commission’s new standard effectively applies the citizenship ratio of identifiable shareholders.

WGVU’s Walenta Appointed to Governor’s Council

Michael Walenta
Michael Walenta

On September 23, Governor Rick Snyder announced the initial appointments to the Governor’s Council on Genocide and Holocaust Education. The council consists of 15 members appointed by the governor.

Among the 15 appointed were Michael Walenta, General Manager of WGVU Public Media at Grand Valley State University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting and cinematic arts and a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University. Walenta is currently on the board of directors of the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters.

The Governor’s Council on Genocide and Holocaust Education was created to promote, within schools and the general population of Michigan, implementation of genocide education by identifying strategies for providing and enhancing genocide education to students and identifying programs and resources to train teachers in providing genocide education.

Please see the complete release and list of appointees here.  Members will serve two-year terms expiring on August 26, 2018.

WDIV’s Help Me Hank: The School Project

wdiv_700WDIV-TV (Detroit) (Local 4) has embarked on “Help Me Hank: The School Project,” a 10-month commitment to better the physical environment of Thurgood Marshall Elementary-Middle School in Detroit.

The station partnered with the Detroit Public School Community District to identify a school that was in crucial need of building renovations. Thurgood Marshall Elementary-Middle School is home to nearly 700 students and dedicated faculty and staff.

“As a reporter in Detroit for the last 16 years, I’ve seen school children and teachers trying to learn and teach in appalling conditions and it is unacceptable,” said “Help Me Hank” Consumer Reporter Hank Winchester. “‘Help Me Hank: The School Project’ is not about who is to blame for the state of the schools, but how we, as a community, can work with our generous friends and the people of the school district to create a better physical learning environment for the young and curious students of Thurgood Marshall.”

The cafeteria and front office were the first targets for renovations. Hire It Done and PPG Paint donated time, materials and people to transform the cafeteria and main office.

“Right now the gymnasium doesn’t have bleachers. There are two-by-fours on top of paint buckets for people to sit,” said Kim Voet, news director. “The gymnasium, media center and ways to improve technology are the next big things on our list.”

“The school mascot is a dolphin and there was not one dolphin in the building. When our friends from Fathead provided dolphin decals for the cafeteria, we could see the excitement from the faculty, staff, parents and students. We can’t wait to do so much more over the next school year,” said Winchester.

“Building quality is important to student outcomes. There’s a real sense of pride that comes from being in an updated, safe and physically attractive learning environment. Local 4 is headquartered in Detroit and the schools of this city are our neighbors and are educating our future leaders,” said Marla Drutz, Local 4 vice president and general manager.

“Help Me Hank: The School Project” reports will be featured all school year on Local 4 News and ClickOnDetroit. Please click here for a link to the first report on September 13.

Broadcasting Career Builder Conference 2016

Broadcasting Career Builder Conference (BCBC) is in November! Make sure your students know about and plan to attend this important career building conference.

Friday, November 18
Eagle Eye Golf Club & Conference Center, Bath, MI
Early registration is only $20 until November 4! ($35 after November 4)

BCBC 2016 will feature new informative sessions on technology, as well as classic favorites such as Speed Networking. We look forward to seeing you there!

Register for BCBC 2016 HERE.

Current Schedule

8:00am – 4:00pm Registration Open

9:00am – 9:30am Opening Session

9:30am – 9:45am Networking Break

9:45am – 10:45am UPDATED!! Speed Networking*
9:45am – 10:45am How to Film with an iPhone
9:45am – 10:45am Marketing YOU!

10:45am – 11:00am Networking Break

11:00am – 12:00pm UPDATED!! Speed Networking*
11:00am – 12:00pm Storytelling on Different Platforms
11:00am – 12:00pm Resume Review and Mock Interviews

12:00pm – 1:30pm Luncheon and Career Fair

1:30pm – 2:30pm The WRITE Way
1:30pm – 2:30pm Filming a Feature on an iPhone

2:30pm – 2:45pm Networking Break

2:45pm – 3:30pm Keynote Address and Door Prizes

*This year’s Speed Networking sessions will feature two students talking to each mentor.

If you’re interested in getting involved, please contact Alisha Clack at the MABF, [email protected] or 517-484-7444.

National EAS Test Successful; Don’t Forget Reporting

eas-logo_300On September 28, broadcasters in Michigan and nationwide conducted the first national test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) in five years and the first-ever using the IPAWS infrastructure.  Initial feedback showed the test was generally successful.  The MAB received only two informal reports of a stations having difficulties and those were confined to the retransmission end of the test.  Nationally, some areas reported difficulties; most of which appeared to be confined to configuration of station equipment.  In a post-test conference call with nationwide SECC (State Emergency Communications Committee) chairs, FEMA (The Federal Emergency Management Agency) received accolades for the audio quality of the test.

Reminder on the reporting requirements:  Stations were required to go online and file ETRS Form Two by midnight on September 28.

ETRS Form Three, which asks for more detailed information regarding the test is due on or before November 14, 2016.

For information on how to navigate to the proper forms within ETRS, see the article in our last newsletter here.

Blarney Stone Acquires Northern Broadcast

Jerry and Sheryl Coyne
Jerry and Sheryl Coyne

Blarney Stone Broadcasting, Inc. and Northern Broadcast, Inc. have entered into a purchase agreement that will enable Blarney Stone to significantly increase reach and coverage throughout Northern Michigan.

Founded in 2012 by Jerry and Sheryl Coyne, residents of Gaylord, Blarney Stone Broadcasting owns and operates WQON (FM), licensed to Grayling; WGRY (FM), licensed to Roscommon and WMQU (AM), licensed to Grayling.

Northern Broadcast has agreed to sell assets including WKLT (FM), licensed to Kalkaska; WKLZ (FM), licensed to Petoskey; WFCX (FM), licensed to Leland; WFDX (FM), licensed to Atlanta; WSRT (FM), licensed to Gaylord and WSRJ (FM), licensed to Honor. The agreement also includes FM translator station W263CD, licensed to Boyne City; FM translator station W252DA, licensed to Petoskey and all broadcast assets of Northern Broadcast, including its six dominant transmitting towers.

“We are thrilled beyond words for the opportunity to expand our coverage throughout Northern Michigan with the acquisition of these heritage properties,” said Sheryl Coyne, President and Co-Owner of Blarney Stone Broadcasting. “It has always been our commitment and privilege to improve the lives of our listeners and the communities we serve by offering engaging music, sports and entertainment content with an emphasis on support for the local communities. We now look forward to expanding that commitment to all of Northern Michigan from Traverse City to Alpena and Saint Ignace to Clare.”

“We are proud of our contribution to economic growth in the region including the creation of jobs by adding 12 full-time and 16 part-time employees since opening our doors in October 2012. We are committed to hiring home-grown talent with a focus on local programming.” said Coyne. “Through the support of our incredible sponsors, we’ve been able to spend our dollars locally and provide a platform and voice for local issues. We look forward to expanding our contribution to the social, economic and educational development of all the communities in Northern Michigan.”

Traverse City-Petoskey-Cadillac is the 160th largest radio market in the country with a Metro 12+ Population of 297,300 according to Nielsen Media Research. The region is a destination to more than one million visitors each year.

In a separate move, Baraga Broadcasting will purchase WSRT (FM), licensed to Gaylord, from Blarney Stone. (see separate article here).

All transactions scheduled to close pending approval from the Federal Communications Commission.

2017 Michigan Student Broadcast Awards


Information has been sent to educational institutions across Michigan and is available on the MAB website about the 2017 Michigan Student Broadcast Awards.  If you are a teacher, advisor or professor, please make sure to post the information for your students and help them to participate in this year’s awards program. Students can submit work in several broadcasting categories.

Attention broadcasters:  you can help encourage young people to enter the broadcasting industry by calling area high schools and colleges that you have relationships with and encourage the faculty advisor to have students participate.  Schools or colleges need not have a specific broadcasting curriculum; it could be a club, English class or a digital media group.  They just need to have an audio/video program of some kind that is directed by an advisor who will sign their application forms.  You can also help by volunteering to judge these online entries.

Important Dates

Friday, December 16, 2016
Contest Entry Deadline
All entries must be submitted via the online entry system.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017
Student Broadcast Awards Presentation & Luncheon
Lansing Center, Lansing MI

For questions, please contact Alisha Clack, MAB Foundation Executive Manager of Program and Development: [email protected] or 517.484.7444.

Find Your Next Employee at the MABF Fall 2016 Career Fairs

16-fall-career-fair-cc-headerFind your next best employee at the MABF Fall Career Fairs!  MAB focus groups have identified recruitment for open positions at their stations as one of the top five most important areas of need.  Here is your chance to encourage young people to seek careers in broadcasting and perhaps find that perfect match for our station.

Consider participating in all three upcoming career fairs because they attract students from each region in the state that will offer your company different views, ideas and opinions! By attending all three fairs, you’ll be able to prove that your station is seeking out a diverse group of new staff and interns throughout the state, which is great for your EEO File!

Time is running out to register and space is limited so if you’re interested in participating, please register your station as soon as possible!


Tuesday, October 11
Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant
Bovee University Center

Thursday, October 20
Specs Howard School of Media Arts, Farmington Hills NEW LOCATION!

Thursday, October 27
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo
Brown Hall

Please join us!  Click here for complete event details. 

Reserve your booth here: ONLINE REGISTRATION.

Each booth is $275 and includes a co-sponsorship of the event and a boxed meal for vendor representatives (2 maximum).

Revenge for a Good Cause with WCZY’s Bob Peters

Back in May, at a birthday bash celebration for WCZY-FM (Mt. Pleasant), station co-owner and General Manager Bob Peters had a bit of a surpise:  a pie in the face, all in good fun, by Mt. Pleasant Chamber of Commerce President Bret Hyble.  At the time, Hyble remarked that “The thought occured to me (that) Bob should get a cake in the face as part of the celebration.  I bought a cake and presented it to him, but hit him in the face with it at the last second.”

After a long, nervous summer for Chamber President Hyble, who was expecting payback at any time, Peters came up with a revenge plan.  And it’s going to be for a great local cause.

This Thursday, October 6, at the Mt. Pleasant Chamber’s annual Business and Community Expo, local residents will get to vote, with their donations, what Chamber President  Hyble will get in the face….cake, pie or a “mystery item.”   Proceeds will benefit the station’s “Fill a Mayflower” effort to collect food and necessities for those in need, as well as the United Way of Isabella and Gratiot Counties, to provide assistance during the upcoming holidays.

Read more on the station’s website here.  Read more from the Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun here.