Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- Revisions to the pending Journalism Competition and Preservation Act were released to the public this week (revised draft bill). The bill is designed to provide an antitrust exemption to media companies to jointly negotiate with the big tech platforms over the terms on which the platforms can distribute their content. We wrote on our Broadcast Law Blog about the original bill when it was introduced last March. The new draft makes a number of changes, including providing more details on the mechanics for forming negotiating groups of traditional media companies to qualify for the antitrust exemption. It also contains provisions to prevent the online platforms from refusing to deal with a media negotiating group based on the political leanings of its members, and it provides for groups of publishers (apparently not including broadcasters) to force arbitration if their negotiations with the tech platforms are unsuccessful. The bill has bipartisan political support (see the press release listing Democratic and Republican co-sponsors). Additional actions to move this legislation in Congress are expected after the end of the summer recess.
- The FCC’s Media Bureau entered into a consent decree with a New Jersey noncommercial FM station to allow the grant of the station’s license renewal despite its failure to timely place material in its online public inspection file. As has been the case during this radio renewal cycle, no fine was imposed but the station was required to implement a comprehensive Compliance Plan to ensure future compliance with the public file rules (contrast this with the TV renewal cycle where fines have been imposed for similar violations – see, for instance, the last item on another of our recent weekly summaries, here). The Consent Decree serves as a reminder to all stations that the FCC takes its public file rule seriously and thus stations must remain diligent in ensuring that their online public inspection files are properly maintained.
- The Federal Trade Commission announced that it is seeking additional public comment on how children are affected by digital advertising and marketing messages that may blur the line between ads and entertainment. The FTC is seeking public input in conjunction with an October 19, 2022 event that will examine this topic. The public will have until November 18, 2022 to submit comments. Information on how to submit comments is available on the event page.
- The FCC allotted a new FM channel to Big Coppitt Key, Florida. This Class C3 FM channel will be available in a future FCC auction window when parties interested in starting a new radio station to serve that community can bid on the channel.
- On our Broadcast Law Blog, this week we wrote about the legal issues that may arise where broadcasters air “franking” ads from Congressional representatives running for reelection. Congress each year allows its members to spend certain amounts of money to communicate with their constituents. When these ads are voiced by a Congressional representative running for reelection, FCC equal time and political file issues can be raised, as described in the article. In addition, we wrote about the FCC’s second EEO audit notice for 2022 and the implications for stations selected for audit (we also covered this in last week’s weekly update of regulatory actions), the copyright issues raised by a Texas church’s performance and YouTube transmission of their adapted version of the musical Hamilton, and about the different political broadcasting rules that cover broadcasters, cable and satellite television providers, and online companies which allow online providers to reject candidate ads that a broadcaster would have to air.
Watch our Broadcast Law Blog next week for our monthly look ahead at regulatory dates of importance to broadcasters in September, and for likely news about the final amounts for the broadcast regulatory fees due in September.