Category Archives: October 2017

FCC Reminder to Video Programming Distributors – Including Broadcasters – on Accessibility Obligations

David Oxenford - Color
David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP,

With the recent hurricanes and the tragedy in Las Vegas, the FCC Public Notice issued last week reminding all video programmers of the importance of making emergency information accessible to all viewers seems very timely. The public notice serves as a good refresher on all of the obligations of video programmers designed to make emergency information available to members of the viewing audience who may have auditory or visual impairments that may make this information harder to receive. As the FCC also reminds readers of its notice of the ways in which to file complaints against video programming distributors who do not follow the rules, TV broadcasters need to be extremely sensitive to all of these requirements.

What are these obligations? These are some of the obligations highlighted by the FCC’s reminder:

  • For persons who are visually impaired, rules require that emergency information that is visually provided in a newscast also be aurally described in the main audio channel of the station.
  • When emergency information is provided outside of a newscast (e.g. in a crawl during entertainment programming), that information must be accompanied by an aural tone and then an audio version of the emergency information must be broadcast on a secondary audio channel (SAP channel) of a TV station at least twice. See our articles here, here and here about this obligation.
  • For persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, the Commission requires that emergency information provided in the audio portion of a broadcast also be presented visually, through methods including captioning, crawls or scrolls that do not block any emergency information provided through other visual means (like other captions or crawls).
  • For stations that are permitted to use electronic newsroom technique (ENT) captions, where ENT does not provide captions for breaking news and emergency alerts, stations must make emergency information available through some other visual means. See our post here on this obligation.
  • The FCC suggests, but does not require, that stations make emergency information available through multiple means (maps, charts and other visual information) and in plain language, so that all viewers can understand the nature of any emergency.

Emergency information is described broadly as information “intended to further the protection of life, health, safety and property, i.e., critical details regarding the emergency and how to respond to the emergency.” The FCC gives the following examples of the types of emergencies that may be covered: “tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, earthquakes, icing conditions, heavy snows, widespread fires, discharge of toxic gases, widespread power failures, industrial explosions, civil disorders, school closings and changes in school bus schedules resulting from such conditions, and warnings and watches of impending changes in weather.” Note that, for the school closings and bus route changes, the FCC has, for now, exempted this information from the requirement that crawls be converted to audio for the SAP channel, given the likely length that such messages would take (see our article here). The kinds of details that trigger these obligations include the areas that will be affected by the emergency, evacuation orders, detailed descriptions of areas to be evacuated, specific evacuation routes, approved shelters or the way to take shelter in one’s home, instructions on how to secure personal property, road closures and how to obtain relief assistance.”

The Commission notes that, in wide-spread emergencies like a hurricane, notices may need to be provided far beyond the local area directly hit by the emergency, as other areas can also be affected by the event.

Paying attention to the rules highlighted here and provided in more detail in the FCC’s Public Notice are very important, not just as it is important for broadcasters to serve all members of the public in their viewing areas, but also because there has been active enforcement in this area. The enforcement of these rules do not appear to be a partisan issue, as certain accessibility obligations have even be made more stringent during the term of this administration otherwise noted for its deregulation in other areas. So pay attention to this important reminder from the FCC.

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.

FCC Considers Dropping Paper Copy Rule

The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that eliminates rules requiring broadcast and cable entities to keep paper copies of FCC rules. Currently, the FCC has rules that require low power TV, TV and FM translator, TV and FM booster stations and cable television relay station (CARS) licensees to maintain paper copies of commission rules.

In announcing the NPRN, the FCC said: “Because the rules are now readily accessible online, many parties believe that the paper copy requirements are outdated and unnecessarily burdensome. While regulated entities still would be required to be familiar with the rules governing their services, elimination of the paper copy requirements would give them flexibility to determine how to fulfill that obligation.”

This rulemaking is part of the Modernization of Media Regulation Initiative that the FCC launched “to reduce unnecessary regulation that can stand in the way of competition and innovation in media markets.”

FCC Chair Calls on Apple to Activate FM Chips

Ajit Pai

According to a report in InsideRadio, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called for Apple to activate the inactive FM chips in the company’s iPhones to promote public safety. The call comes in the aftermath of the hurricanes that ravaged the coastal United States.

The tech titan is the one major phone manufacturer that has resisted turning on the chips that enable FM radio signals to be received over the air.

“I hope the company will reconsider its position, given the devastation wrought by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria,” Pai said in a statement.

Cumulus Re-Signs Robby Bridges in Detroit

Robby Bridges

Cumulus Media has announced that it has re-signed Robby Bridges as Director of FM Programming in Detroit.  Bridges oversees WDRQ-FM, WDVD-FM, Classic Country WDRQ-HD2 and is also heard afternoons on WDVD.

Cumulus/Detroit Operations Manager Mike Wheeler told All Access, “Robby is an ideal programming partner. He lives and breathes these radio stations, and that love shows in what comes out of the speakers and in the quality of the team he’s built.”

Bridges said, “These are very special radio stations powered by a very special team of people! It’s kind of crazy to think that this spring, I will mark four years in Detroit, ten with Cumulus and 25 in radio.  What a journey!”

Bill to Ban Medical Marijuana Billboard Advertising Passes Committee

The State Senate Judiciary Committee passed legislation that bans billboard advertising for medical marijuana. Senator Rick Jones (R-24), Senate Judiciary Committee chair and bill sponsor, said in a press release that the legislation is in line with a similar ban on tobacco billboard advertising.  SB 463 bans billboards for medical marijuana, dispensaries and businesses that provide access to the drug and imposes minimum penalties of $5,000 per each day of violation. The bill now goes to the full Senate committee chamber for a vote.

Bar Retires from WXYZ-TV

Glenn Bar

Glenn Bar, Senior Executive Producer at WXYZ-TV (Detroit) has retired.  Bar joined the station in 1985 as an intern and, for the next three decades, steadily rose through the ranks, from production assistant to writer, then producer and, in 2003, he was named Assistant News Director.

In 2010, Bar launched the station’s ambitious project Detroit 2020, a 10-year initiative designed to confront the challenges facing Detroit and shine light on the city’s successes.

In addition to producing hundreds of Detroit 2020 stories, Bar spearheaded long-form pieces, half-hour specials and live town halls that shed light on struggling neighborhoods, race relations and the city’s historic bankruptcy.

Bar is a 1986 graduate from Michigan State University.  His last day at the station was September 29.

Alpha Media’s Gordon in NABEF Webcast

Caleb Gordon

Caleb Gordon, Market Engineer for Alpha Media’s Saginaw cluster, recently co-hosted an NAB Education Foundation webcast for its Technology Apprenticeship Program.  Gordon participated in the six-month program designed to expose high-tech graduates and professionals to the broadcast industry.

The goal of the program is to provide participants with an opportunity to learn about latest trends in broadcast technology, receive hands-on training at a broadcast station and contribute a fresh perspective and innovative ideas to the industry.

The webcast focused on “Two Next Gen Platforms: ATSC 3.0 and the Digital Dash.”

You can watch a recording of the webcast here.  It’s free, but registration is required.

Gordon will also be speaking at the upcoming MAB Foundation Broadcasting Career Building Conference (BCBC), scheduled for November 10 in Lansing.

40 Years Later Sales Managers Are Still Making This Silly Mistake

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.

Chris Lytle

By: Chris Lytle, Content Developer

As a young sales manager, I actually said this in a sales meeting: “We have a new salesperson starting next week. Her name is Andrea. I need all of you to give up five accounts from your lists so I can create a new list for her.”

Nobody complained. They smiled knowingly and gave up the accounts they found impossible to sell:

  • The mean ones
  • The small ones
  • The slow paying ones
  • The ones who’d had a “bad experience” with our station

And our brand new hire began her radio career with an account list that our veterans couldn’t survive on: The Charles Darwin Account List.

In this free Webinar. I describe exactly how I learned to get salespeople to willingly pare down their account lists and thrive.

Plus, I reduced turnover by having accounts with real potential to give to the new salesperson.

This is mission critical “stuff.”

Don’t miss it.

Reprinted by permission

5 Things to Remember When Repurposing Your Radio Station’s On-Air Content as Podcasts

Seth Resler

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

For most commercial radio stations, the first step into the world of podcasting is to take their on-air content and publish it online as a podcast. Unfortunately, in most cases, it’s not just simply a matter of uploading a straight recording of a five-hour show. Here are some things to consider as you repackage your radio shows as podcasts:

1. Remove the Music
I’m not a lawyer, and you should always check with your own legal team, but I’m willing to bet that they’ll tell you that you have to strip out all of the songs you played on the air before posting your show online. At this point, there’s isn’t a license that easily allows for music by big artists to be included in podcasts. From time to time a podcaster finds a way around this problem, but those are the exceptions, not the rule.

2. Remove the Commercials
When it comes to podcasting, the expectations around commercials are different. Podcasts don’t have six-minute blocks of produced 60-second spots. Instead, they usually incorporate host-read sponsorships at the beginning and in the middle of the podcast. If you don’t adhere to the convention, you’re likely to turn off podcast listeners. If you want to monetize your podcasts, insert separate host-read spots that meet listener expectations.

3. Chunk it Up
Public radio is much farther ahead of commercial radio when it comes to podcasting in part because there’s less work involved in adapting their content for on-demand consumption. By and large, you can take an episode of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! or Fresh Air and publish it as a podcast in its original state. Unfortunately, the same is not usually true of commercial radio. Even if you’ve got an all-talk morning show, simply publishing over four hours of audio on a daily basis isn’t a sufficient strategy. Yes, you should publish your morning show (sans music and commercials) in its entirety for die-hard fans, but you should also take the station’s interviews and benchmark features and edit them into specific podcasts.

4. Record Intros and Outros for the Podcast Versions
I have heard some radio stations “chunk up” features as podcast series, but neglect to properly set up these features for a podcast format at the beginning of each episode. The first 60 seconds of a podcast episode are crucial, as listeners will abandon the episode if they don’t understand what’s going on. Record a specific introduction for the podcast that tells people what the show is about, who you are and what happens in this episode. For example: “Hi, this is Johnny Fever from WKRP in Cincinnati. Every morning at 6:15, 7:15 and 8:15, we do our Morning Prank Call, where we call up a listener and, well … lie to them. Here are our prank calls from June 2nd, 2017…”

By the same token, record an outro for the end of each podcast episode: “Thanks for listening, I’m Johnny Fever. Remember, you can hear more prank calls every morning on WKRP at 6:15, 7:15 and 8:15. Or you can subscribe to this podcast in iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher or wherever you find podcasts. You can also find them in the WKRP mobile app. Catch you next time!”

5. Get Credit
If you want Nielsen to count any time-shifted radio listening towards your station’s PPM ratings, you’ll need to do two things: (1) Use audio that’s encoded for PPM and (2) Publish it online quickly — Nielsen only counts audio that is listened to within 24 hours of the original broadcast.

Guide to Podcasting
For more help with podcasting, check out our Guide to Podcasting for Radio Stations.

Get the Guide here.

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