Tag Archives: Federal/Congressional Update

Committee Has No Plans to Move Pallone’s Broadcaster Bill

As reported last week, U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), unveiled a draft bill, the Viewer Protection Act. This bill empowers the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to fully protect both broadcast viewers and mobile broadband users who may be affected by the upcoming Broadcast Incentive Auction by funding viewer education efforts, creating an additional $1 billion emergency fund for broadcasters and directing the FCC to create a repacking plan within six months of the conclusion of the auction.

However, the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Communications Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) stated that he is not on board with Pallone’s new bill. Walden, who’s generally sympathetic to broadcasters’ issues, stated that Republicans have pushed for more funding to relocate stations after the auction. “We’ve always felt that there may need to be more revenue there,” he said, but “there will be a time to deal with that after we see how the auction moves forward.”

Reminder: TV Stations Must Caption IP Video Clips as of January 1, 2016

In July 2014, the FCC adopted new rules that require video clips delivered by Internet Protocol (IP) to be captioned if the clip is from video programming that was shown with captions on television. The rules and standards for captioning such IP clips are the same as those for regular, full-length programming if the clip is posted to a station’s website or app after it was shown on television with captions.

The FCC established January 1, 2016, as the deadline for compliance with this new obligation. Accordingly, all television stations must caption all “straight-lift” video clips, or clips that contain a single excerpt of a captioned television program with the same video and audio that was presented on television. Certain exemptions apply, including when the video clip is posted to a third-party website or app (i.e., one that is not owned or operated by the programming producer or distributor). In addition, the rules apply only to IP clips posted online after January 1, 2016. Also, the new captioning requirements do not apply to IP clips in which the audio is substantially different from the audio that accompanied the televised video.

Different deadlines apply to other types of captioned video:

(1) January 1, 2017: deadline for captioning of montages or a video clip created from multiple straight-lift clips.
(2) July 1, 2017: deadline for captioning of live programming (video clip posted online at or around the same time the program airs on television with captions) and near-live programming (video clip created and posted online within 24 hours of when the program first airs on television with captions).

House Passes Sweeping FOIA Reform Legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would create the most sweeping reforms to federal open records laws in nearly a decade. The measure would limit exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that now allow federal agencies to hold back information.

The bill would also create a single online portal for people to make FOIA requests and require agencies to publicly post frequently requested records online. The new bill, the FOIA Oversight and Implementation Act, H.R. 653, represents the most significant push to overhaul the FOIA system since 2007. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

MAB is tracking.

Radio Issues on FCC’s Agenda in 2016

According to Broadcast Law Blog, one of the biggest issues in radio may see some action by the FCC before the end of January. The FCC has circulated a proposal among the commissioners to adopt a requirement for an online public file for radio, cable and satellite. In his blog post, FCC Chairman Wheeler confirmed that the commission is due to vote on this issue at the FCC meeting on January 28.

NAB Disputes CCA’s Repack, Relocation Fund Facts

According to a report in Radio Business Report (RBR), the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) told the FCC that the 39-month timeline to repack television stations into their new channels and the $1.75 billion to compensate broadcasters for the move is enough time and money. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says that neither is true.

It is unclear how many television stations will take part in the auction – that is why the NAB is urging the commission to wait until after the auction to establish a repacking schedule. “Broadcasters should not be forced off the air if they are unable to make the transition to their new channels due to factors outside their control,” wrote NAB General Counsel and EVP Rick Kaplan in an ex parte notice filed with the FCC.

The NAB commissioned a technical study looking at the resources, costs and timeline for a nationwide repack. The study found that it could cost “substantially” more than the $1.75 billion set aside in relocation funds and take longer than the 39-months deadline.

GOP report slams FCC on open records

According to the GOP-led report released last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) might be deliberately withholding public records. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report concluded that the FCC’s is either incompetent or intentionally misused redactions under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to withhold internal communication about its internet regulations.

“The agency either misunderstands how to use redactions, raising concerns of competency, or the agency intentionally misuses redactions, raising concerns of integrity,” according to the report. “Given the numerous examples in which the FCC improperly redacts information, this may be a deliberate tactic to withhold information from the public.”

The report concluded that the open records process is broken within the broader federal government. About a quarter of the report was dedicated to side-by-side comparisons of FCC documents, which were redacted when sent to journalists but provided in full to the committee.