Last week, just before Thanksgiving, the FCC released the tentative agenda for its December meeting. From that agenda, it appears that the meeting will be an important one for broadcasters and other media companies. Already, the press has spent incredible amounts of time focusing on one item, referred to as “Restoring Internet Freedom” by the FCC, and “net neutrality” by many other observers. The FCC’s draft of the Order that they will be considering at their December meeting is available here.
The one pure broadcast item on the agenda is the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, looking to determine if the FCC should amend the cap limiting one TV station owner to stations reaching no more than 39% of the national audience. The FCC asks a series of questions in its draft notice of proposed rulemaking, available here, including whether it has the power to change the cap, or if the power is exclusively that of Congress. The FCC promised to initiate this proceeding when it reinstated the UHF discount (see our articles here and here). In that proceeding, the FCC determined that the UHF discount should not have been abolished without a thorough examination of the national ownership cap – an examination that will be undertaken in this new proceeding if the NPRM is adopted at the December meeting.
Also on the agenda is a proposal in the FCC’s proceeding for the Modernization of Media Regulation, looking at whether the FCC should change some of the requirements on cable operators and other MVPDs for giving written notice to customers about changes in their operations. The FCC is examining whether other forms of notice, including electronic notice, might be a better option. The draft of the FCC’s proposal is here. As some of the required notices include notices of changes in TV stations carriage, broadcasters should take note of this proceeding.
The FCC is also looking to adopt a new event code for its EAS system – a Blue Alert to notify the public of an imminent threat to law enforcement personnel. This, of course, would affect broadcasters and their EAS obligations. The draft order is available here.
Finally, the FCC is looking at the process that wireless companies need to go through to locate antennas on “twilight towers,” those towers built during the period from 2001 to 2006 when the FCC had not adopted the full environmental and historical review process that proponents of new towers now need to go through. As broadcasters may own some of these towers, this item may be of interest to some. The draft of the FCC’s proposal to be considered at the December meeting is here.
All of these matters will be considered at the FCC’s December meeting, to be held on December 14. FCC Chairman Pai wrote a blog article here describing some of these matters to be considered at the meeting. Follow the action closely as the meeting is certain to be a lively one, and one deciding issues that are very important to many media companies.