Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • In the last two weeks, many stations have discovered that links to their FCC-hosted online public inspection file no longer work after an FCC update to its website and file-hosting system. It appears that the issue is that, after the update, for the link to work, station call letters in the link need to be in capital letters, when capitalization had not been required in the past. As stations are required to have a working link to their online public file on the homepage of their website, and in certain public notices related to FCC applications, check your website to make sure that links to your station’s online public file are working.
  • The FCC released a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Notice of Inquiry that, if adopted, will start a rulemaking that looks at making visual EAS messages delivered by TV broadcasters and cable systems clearer and more accessible. The FCC proposes to require a predetermined script be used for visual display of EAS messages, and to require that stations, whenever they receive an alert (including state and local alerts) from their legacy (over-the-air) EAS alerting system, check their IPAWS Internet-delivered CAP (Common Alert Protocol) based system to see if additional visual information about an alert has been provided, as that IP-based system allows for alerts containing more visual information. The FCC also asks for suggestions on how the current, legacy EAS can be updated to make those systems more robust in providing visual information. This draft will be voted at the FCC’s December 14 regular monthly Open Meeting. The comment and reply comment periods will be set after the notice is approved and published in the Federal Register. (EAS Accessibility NPRM and NOI)
  • The FCC released a reminder that it will hold a video programming accessibility forum on December 2 from 1:00-3:45 pm Eastern. The panelists will explore the state of closed captioning availability for online video programming and discuss ways to enhance accessibility, including inquiring as to whether the FCC has authority to adopt new rules that would apply to online video providers. (Event Reminder) (Public Notice)
  • The Copyright Royalty Board released a notice alerting college radio stations that are not affiliated with NPR or the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that there will be a cost-of-living increase in 2022 for their royalties due to SESAC. Royalties will increase from $164 per year to $174. (Federal Register Notice)

Looking ahead to next week, FCC Commissioner nominee Gigi Sohn will visit the Senate Commerce Committee on December 1 for her confirmation hearing to be the third Democratic Commissioner. During the same hearing, the committee will vote on advancing FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel’s nomination to the full Senate for a final confirmation vote. Alan Davidson, President Biden’s nominee to lead NTIA, which oversees federal spectrum policy, will also be considered by the committee. The hearing begins at 10:15 am Eastern on December 1 and can be viewed at www.commerce.senate.gov. (Nominations Hearing)