This advisory is directed to television stations with locally-produced programming whose signals were carried by at least one cable system located outside the station’s local service area or by a satellite provider that provided service to at least one viewer outside the station’s local service area during 2015. These stations may be eligible to file royalty claims for compensation with the United States Copyright Royalty Board. These filings are due by August 1, 2016 at 5:00 pm (EDT).
Under the federal Copyright Act, cable systems and satellite operators must pay license royalties to carry distant TV signals on their systems. Ultimately, the Copyright Royalty Board divides the royalties among those copyright owners who claim shares of the royalty fund. Stations that do not file claims by the deadline will not be able to collect royalties for carriage of their signals during 2015.
In order to file a cable royalty claim, a television station must have aired locally-produced programming of its own and had its signal carried outside of its local service area by at least one cable system in 2015. Television stations with locally-produced programming whose signals were delivered to subscribers located outside the station’s Designated Market Area (“DMA”) in 2015 by a satellite provider are also eligible to file royalty claims. A station’s distant signal status should be evaluated and confirmed by communications counsel.
Both the cable and satellite claim forms may be filed electronically or in paper form. Electronic versions of these forms are available online at http://www.loc.gov/crb/claims/. To submit claims, stations are required to supply the name and address for the claimant and the copyright owner, provide a general statement as to the nature of the copyrighted work (e.g., local news, sports broadcasts, specials, or other station-produced programming), and submit at least one example of retransmission as a distant signal. For cable claims, stations will also be required to supply the name of the program, the station’s city and state of license, a date in 2015 when retransmission as a distant signal occurred, and the name and location of a cable system that retransmitted the station to subscribers on a distant signal basis. For each satellite retransmission identified, stations will need to supply the name of the program, the station's city and state of license, a date in 2015 when retransmission as a distant signal occurred, and the name of a satellite provider that retransmitted the station to subscribers on a distant signal basis. Claimants should keep copies of all submissions and confirmations of delivery, including certified mail receipts.
Claims can also be submitted in paper form. Detailed rules as to how the claims must be addressed and delivered apply. Claims that are hand-delivered by a local Washington, D.C. courier must be filed one hour earlier, by 4:00 pm. Claims may be sent by certified mail if they are properly addressed, postmarked by August 1, 2016, and include sufficient postage. The Copyright Royalty Board will reject any claim filed prior to July 1, 2016 or after the deadline. Overnight delivery services such as Federal Express cannot be used. Stations filing paper claims should verify the proper procedures with communications counsel.