FCC Fines & Other FCC Happenings

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    Andy Brown

    The Federal Communications Commission adopted rules for the Citizens Broadband Radio Service, creating a new spectrum band and taking a major step forward in spectrum policy by authorizing advanced spectrum sharing among commercial and federal operators. As spectrum is a finite resource, today’s action by the Commission will combine spectrum sharing tools and policies to make available 150 megahertz of spectrum for mobile broadband and other commercial uses.
    Specifically, the Report and Order adopts innovative spectrum sharing techniques to create a new three- tiered commercial radio service spanning 3550 MHz to 3700 MHz. Today’s action adds 100 megahertz of spectrum newly available for wireless broadband to the 50 megahertz of spectrum already available for commercial use in that band, a significant step towards meeting the nation’s 500 megahertz goal.




    Andy Brown


    September 1, 2015 Digital Transition Date Remains in Effect for Class A Television Stations
    In its LPTV DTV Second Report and Order,1 the Commission established a September 1, 2015 deadline for low power television (LPTV), TV translator, and Class A television stations to terminate analog operations and transition to digital. Effective immediately, the Media Bureau announces that the September 1, 2015 digital transition date for LPTV and TV translator stations is hereby suspended pending final action in the rulemaking proceeding in MB Docket No. 03-185.

    Complete info: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2015/db0424/DA-15-486A1.pdf


    Andy Brown


    Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau has resolved an investigation into the misuse of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) tones by iHeartCommunications, Inc., a subsidiary of iHeartMedia. The company has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty, admits to misuse of EAS tones, and agreed to a compliance and reporting plan as a result of airing a false emergency alert.


    As part of the settlement, iHeart admits that its broadcasting of EAS tones during “The Bobby Bones Show” violated the FCC’s EAS laws. The company is required to pay a civil penalty of $1 million dollars and implement a comprehensive three-year compliance and reporting plan. Additionally, they must remove or delete all simulated or actual EAS tones from the company’s audio production libraries.


    Andy Brown


    The Federal Communications Commission plans to fine AT&T Mobility, LLC $100,000,000 for misleading its customers about unlimited mobile data plans. The FCC’s investigation alleges that AT&T severely slowed down the data speeds for customers with unlimited data plans and that the company failed to adequately notify its customers that they could receive speeds slower than the normal network speeds AT&T advertised.



    Andy Brown

    The FCC has adopted their field office reorganization plan. Portland office remains open, Seattle closed. In the future, all field office agents must have electrical engineering degrees. Here’s my big chance. Oops, too old.




    Seen this morning on Usenet:

    Subject: Eleven FCC Field Offices Culled in Reorganization [telecom]
    From: Neal McLain <nmclain.remove-this@and-this-too.annsgarden.com>
    Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
    Message-ID: <b7750cca-7f60-4c62-bd42-fc6827feacf0@googlegroups.com>
    Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2015 11:53:07 -0700 (PDT)

    By Laura Stefani, CommLawBlog, July 19, 2015

    Moving to “refocus” and “update” field office operations, FCC preserves more offices than originally anticipated, but some field personnel will lose jobs.

    A few months ago, we reported on Chairman Wheeler’s then-rumored plan to eliminate 16 of the Commission’s 24 Field Offices. (The plan, as described by Wheeler himself in testimony on Capitol Hill, would have replaced the decommissioned offices with “Tiger Teams” that would fly around the country to respond to unlawful interference.) Reports of the plan triggered considerable controversy which in turn triggered some old-fashioned D.C. lobbying (by both regulatees and field office employees) which then prompted Congressional intervention.

    The result? In a terse order long on bureaucratese and short on detail, the FCC has announced that 11 of the 24 Field Offices (down from the 16 originally proposed) will be shuttered.


    Neal McLain



    They’re greaaaaat! 🙂


    Andy Brown

    The Federal Communications Commission grants – with conditions – approval of the transfer of control of licenses and authorizations from DIRECTV to AT&T Inc. (AT&T). The approval will allow AT&T to acquire DIRECTV and merge the two companies into one combined entity.



    Andy Brown

    The FCC is clamping down on full service stations using temporary sites to keep their expiring Construction Permits alive. In the future, filing on an obvious temporary site, running tests and filing for a license to meet the deadline isn’t going to be acceptable. The construction of temporary facilities will be insufficient to warrant the grant of a license application for a new station.

    See http://www.broadcastlawblog.com/2015/07/articles/fcc-takes-hard-line-on-efforts-to-keep-alive-expiring-construction-permits-for-both-new-fm-stations-and-modifications-of-existing-stations/

    It appears the practice of constructing temporary facilities to meet construction deadlines seems like it has come to an end. So if you have a CP, complete the construction on time, or potentially face the consequences.


    Andy Brown

    The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau today announced a $750,000 settlement with Smart City Holdings, LLC for blocking consumers’ Wi-Fi at various convention centers around the United States. Smart City, an Internet and telecommunications provider for conventions, meeting centers, and hotels, had been blocking personal mobile “hotspots” that were being used by convention visitors and exhibitors who used their own data plans rather than paying Smart City substantial fees to use the company’s Wi-Fi service.



    Andy Brown

    Andy Brown

    The FCC Media Bureau announced a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry in Revitalization of the AM Radio Service in the Federal Register Today
    Comment Date: March 21, 2016 Reply Comment Date: April 18, 2016

    What this means is that the AM radio service on the standard broadcast band makeover has now moved to the second round of comments about the first set of edits which are based on the initial proposal and comments. This will go on four or five times before they are done.




    Andy Brown

    The FCC will now require all public file content to be available on line. Licensees will have to upload that which is not placed on line by the FCC as well as keeping an electronic copy of everything on their own web site to be able to no longer maintain a physical copy of the public file at the main studio location.



    Andy Brown

    FCC: The bad guys
    NAB: The badder guys
    Mega-owners: The worst guys

    This from RadioWorld:

    As FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler prepares to circulate the FCC’s long-anticipated quadrennial ownership rule review, the National Association of Broadcasters is asking it to give broadcasters more regulatory room to be competitive, warning that the current spectrum auction and its impact on TV stations should not affect that effort.

    The FCC is now six years overdue on its 2010 review and two years overdue on its 2014 review, which have been rolled up into one, and scheduled for circulation by the end of this month, likely by sometime next week.

    In an ex parte filing with the commission, NAB asks the FCC to eliminate the newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership rules, “the last remnant of the radio/television cross-ownership rule” [see below], eliminate the eight-voices test for local ownership–no duopolies if it leaves fewer than eight independent voices in a market–and reform the top-four restriction that prevents a duopoly involving two of the four top-rated stations in a market.

    NAB also said that the commission should not use the auction, which could extend through the last quarter of the year, as an excuse not to take action. “[T]he recently commenced TV spectrum incentive auction provides no basis for the commission to refrain from concluding its 2010 and 2014 quadrennial reviews in the time frame noted by the Third Circuit,” NAB execs said in a letter dated June 21.

    “Both Congress and the commission have recognized that an incentive auction inevitably would result in a decrease in the number of TV station licensees. Indeed, that is the stated purpose of the auction–to persuade broadcasters “to relinquish some or all of their spectrum usage rights” and to “clear the highest possible amount of spectrum for broadband.”

    “Because Congress and the commission already have decided that reducing the number of TV stations will serve the public interest, the commission cannot properly use that public interest judgment as a basis to further delay fulfilling its obligations [to modernize] its ownership rules to reflect today’s marketplace.”

    FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has not shown any proclivity toward major broadcast deregulation, instead having in March 2014 tightened local ownership rules to count most joint sales agreements as ownership, though a federal court recently vacated that tightening because the FCC had taken the action before the quadrennial review.

    NAB pointed to that court decision, as well as the competitive and technological changes in the marketplace as reasons why the FCC should remove what it has long said are vestiges of another century–make that millennium–when there was no cable or satellite or telco or online competition.

    But following the court ruling, the chairman’s office quickly indicated that the JSA tightening could return as part of the quadrennial review item.

    [Radio World addition: On radio/TV cross-ownership, NAB wrote: “The FCC tentatively concluded in 2011 that the radio/TV cross-ownership rule was no longer ‘necessary to promote the public interest.’ Since 2011, the media marketplace has only become more competitive and diverse, and no commenter in the pending proceedings has presented empirical evidence showing that elimination of the rule would harm viewpoint diversity. Especially in light of the limited effects of the remaining radio/TV cross-ownership restrictions,the existence of separate local radio and local TV ownership rules, and multiple studies finding that radio/TV cross-ownership promotes localism, retention of this rule would be contrary to Section 202(h) and arbitrary and capricious.”]



    Andy Brown

    So everyone is tongue tied about the above post?

    Aren’t you tired of the FCC kicking the can down the road?

    When iHeart folds, perhaps, something might begin to stir at the FCC. The current model is not sustainable. People don’t want so few voices on the broadcast dial. Period. The FCC’s lack of attention to this is not only a sign of their incompetence (actually it’s Congress’s incompetence) but it feeds the furnace of the internet stealing listeners, viewers and advertising.

    Wake the fuck up.

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