FCC Relaxes Filing Requirements for COVID-19 Temporary News Pooling
Temporary agreements for shared news gathering efforts related to news coverage of the novel coronavirus pandemic should not need to be placed in stations’ online public inspection files. The FCC stated, “We clarify that temporary or ad hoc sharing agreements arising from coverage of the
COVID-19 outbreak fall squarely within the exemption … and therefore do not need to be placed in a station’s online public inspection file. Additional information can be found HERE.
Phase 9 TV Repacking Deadline Moved to Phase 10
The FCC will allow any station currently scheduled for Phase 9 of the repack to move to Phase 10 as a result of the virus outbreak. If stations in Phase 9 would still like to transition at this time, they may do so. The details for how to make the request are in the attached document and the link. The FCC will also be monitoring developments with tower crews, station personnel, etc. to determine later on whether Phase 10 itself needs to be extended.
The FCC’s Public Notice can be found HERE.
For a list of affected station click HERE (NY stations in Yellow)
FCC Clarifies Lowest Unit Rate Rule During COVID-19 Crisis
During the COVID -19 crisis, stations are doing their best to keep advertising accounts, including offering their clients free time. A question has arisen regarding stations offering commercial customers free time and whether this would impact a station’s Lowest Unit Rate during an election. In a recent notice the FCC indicated that a station could offer a client free time, without affecting its Lowest Unit Rate for political candidates. The FCC stated:
Given the current circumstances, the public interest dictates that broadcasters and other regulatees that are subject to Section 315(b) may exclude the free time that they provide to commercial advertisers when calculating their lowest unit charges, provided the free time is not associated with an existing commercial contract for paid time or otherwise considered bonus spots. We do not believe that broadcasters should be discouraged at this time from airing free advertisements because of the impact that doing so could have on the calculation of their lowest unit changes.
Stations need to be careful. They can offer free time if it is a separate arrangement and not combined with an existing contract. It has to be a separate arrangement. If you have any questions, you should consult your communications counsel.
The FCC’s Public Notice can be found HERE.
FCC May Permit Waivers of 15% LMA Programming Limit During COVID-19 Crisis
Under the FCC’s current LMA rules, news programming under the terms of these agreements may not exceed 15% of the brokered station’s weekly programming hours. Thus, provision of programming in excess of 15% of the brokered television station’s weekly programming hours may result in violation of the Local Television Ownership Rule.
During the period that the COVID-19 outbreak remains a national emergency, individual licensees may request temporary waivers of the Local Television Ownership Rule to provide more news coverage to brokered stations than is currently provided by existing LMA arrangements if such additional coverage would exceed 15% of their current weekly programming hours.
Additional information can be found on the FCC’s website HERE.
FCC Extends Time for Filing Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Kid-Vid Report
Issues Programs Lists: The FCC extended the deadline for radio and television broadcasters to place their first quarter issues/programs lists into their Online Public Inspection File from April 10, 2020, to July 10, 2020. As a result, the filing deadline for both the first and second quarter issues/programs lists will be the same.
Children’s TV Report: The FCC extended the filing deadline for the first annual Children’s Television Programming Report (FCC Form 2100, Schedule H) from March 30, 2020 to July 10, 2020.
The FCC’s Order can be found HERE.
FCC Postpones Auction of FM Licenses
The FCC announced an indefinite postponement of Auction 106, an auction of construction permits in the FM broadcast service, which had been scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 28, 2020. The Commission took this action in order to protect the health and safety of Commission staff during the auction and so that parties have additional time to prepare to participate in Auction 106 given the COVID-19 pandemic. OEA and MB will announce a revised schedule in a future public notice. Auction 106 applicants that had submitted upfront payments may obtain a refund of those deposits after submitting a written request.
Additional details can be found in the FCC’s Public Notice at https://www.fcc.gov/document/auction-106-fm-broadcast-postponed