Here’s an updated listing of the FCC proceedings in which the Oregon Association of Broadcasters and other State Broadcasters Associations have jointly participated from January 1, 2010 to the present.
1. In the Matter of International Comparison and Consumer Survey Requirements in the Broadband Data Improvement Act, et al. (GN Docket Nos. 09-47, 51 and 137), National Broadband Plan Public Notice #30, Joint Reply Comments filed on January 27, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Reply Comments provided critical analysis in opposition to CTIA's and CEA's claims that the reallocation of television broadcast spectrum to the wireless broadband industry would not impair over-the-air television broadcasting. (Rule Making Pending)
2. In the Matter of Review of the Emergency Alert System (EB Docket No. 04-296), Joint Comments filed on March 15, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Comments supported the FCC's proposal to conduct national testing of the EAS with certain qualifications and recommendations, e.g., test only once a year; longer notice needed before actual tests; national tests should substitute for monthly and weekly tests; post-test data generation and distribution should be circumscribed; require pre-test certification of encoder/decoder equipment; suspend EAS enforcement relating to national test. (Report and Order Adopted; Notice of National Test Date Announced – November 9, 2011)
3. In the Matter of Review of the Emergency Alert System (EB Docket No. 04-296), Joint Reply Comments filed on April 13, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Reply Comments responded to the filings of other parties whose positions did not agree fully with the positions of the State Associations as noted above. (Report and Order Adopted; Notice of National Test Date Announced – November 9, 2011)
4. In re the Petition for Rulemaking to Amend the Commission's Rules Governing Retransmission Consent (MB Docket No. 10-71), Joint Comments filed on May 18, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Comments vigorously opposed the rule making petition filed by numerous cable and satellite companies which are urging the FCC to radically change (in favor of the MVPDs) the negotiating dynamics of the Congressionally-mandated, market-driven negotiating process by which television stations exercise their retransmission consent rights. (Notice of Proposed Rule Making Adopted)
5. In the Matter of Review of the Emergency Alert System (DA 10-500, EB Docket No. 04-296), Joint Reply Comments filed on June 14, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Reply Comments urged the FCC: to develop and fund a comprehensive, nationwide training program for all EAS participants; to extend the deadline for CAP compliance; in lieu of mandatory regulatory requirements, to continue to rely upon voluntary, private party initiated programs for the use of multi-lingual EAS messaging; and not to enlarge the scope of mandatory EAS beyond the Offices of Governor. (Rule Making Pending)
6. In the Matter of Establishment of a Model for Predicting Digital Broadcast Television Field Strength Received at Individual Locations (ET Docket No. 10-152) and Measurement Standards for Digital Television Signals Pursuant to the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (ET Docket No. 06-94), Joint Reply Comments filed on September 3, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Reply Comments, inter alia, demonstrated why STELA does not mandate or permit the use of indoor antennas as the standard for prediction and on-side measurement of signal strength. (On November 23, the Commission issued (i) a Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making in ET Docket No. 10-152 considering possible modification of the digital Individual Location Longley Rice prediction model to improve accuracy, and (ii) a Report and Order in ET Docket No. 06-94 supporting use of the outdoor antenna methodology for on-site measurements, as we had supported)
7. In the Matter of Review of the Emergency Alert System (EB Docket No. 04-296), Petition for Expedited Extension of the 180-day "CAP" Compliance Deadline filed on October 21, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations and other joint petitioners, including the NAB. The petition urged the FCC to extend by at least six months the deadline for complying with CAP because of substantial regulatory and marketplace uncertainty, e.g., FEMA had not released the IPAWS list of CAP tested and certified EAS equipment; the FCC was considering conducting its own certification process; the FCC intends to launch a Part 11 rule making proceeding that could impact the design of CAP-compliant EAS equipment; and there are no regulations requiring state and local emergency management authorities to deliver CAP-compliant EAS messages by the deadline. (Petition Granted)
8. In the Matter of Review of Media Bureau Data Practices (MB Docket No. 10-103), Ex-Parte Letter filed on November 30, 2010 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations and the NAB. The letter was in response to the request of a number of organizations urging the FCC to reinstitute the collection of job position data by race, ethnicity and gender for all full-time and part-time broadcast station employees (under suspended Broadcast Annual Employment Report - FCC Form 395-B) and to make that data publicly available on a station-by-station attributable basis. In opposing the request, we pointed out that the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission does not make public, on an employer-attributed basis, the racial, ethnic or gender data that it collects from employers, and that the prohibition against attributing employment data is even more justified in the FCC context where the collecting agency (the FCC) has the power of life and death over broadcast stations and where that agency has a long history of using, and allowing the use of, its license renewal and other processes to pressure stations to hire based on race, ethnicity and gender. In Lutheran Church and in Broadcasters, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit twice held the FCC's EEO regulations unconstitutional in large part due to the data collection under FCC Form 395-B. When the FCC asked OMB to approve changes to that form, OMB instructed the FCC not to start using the form until after the Commission had first decided whether such data should be held in such a way that the data would not be attributable to an individual station or group of stations. The State Associations and the NAB have consistently urged the FCC to engage a third-party such as BIA/Kelsey Network to collect such data in confidence and to make the data available to the FCC and anyone else only on an aggregated basis and only in such a way as not to reveal any particular employer's statistics." (Rule Making Pending)
1. In the Matter of Innovation in the Broadcast Television Bands: Allocations, Channel Sharing and Improvements to VHF (ET Docket No. 10-235) Joint Reply Comments filed April 25, 2011 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The FCC's Notice of Proposed Rule Making proceeding is considering the reallocation of 120 MHz spectrum from the television industry to the wireless industry. The State Associations representing the fifty States and the District of Columbia stated that while they were appreciative of Chairman Genachowski’s remarks before the breakfast audience at the NAB Convention and his dialogue at the NAB Convention with the Executives of a number of State Associations, they continue to have very serious misgivings about the approach being taken by the Commission to remove even more of the spectrum that is used for free, local, over-the-air, commercial and noncommercial television broadcasting. Together the State Associations expressed the view that the Commission’s spectrum reclamation approach to solving any user congestion challenges that the wireless industry may face in the future rests on assumptions that have not been supported and cannot be supported at this time. They demonstrated that the DTV transition is new, ongoing and challenging, and the fruits of its public interest potential have yet to be fully realized. The State Associations also pointed out that the Commission’s choice of TV spectrum for reclamation is not the necessary product of an independently conducted spectrum inventory audit. Furthermore, they challenged as questionable the Commission’s notion of “voluntary,” in connection with its incentive auction proposal, in the absence of legally binding FCC assurances that no monetary or non-monetary adverse effect, condition or consequence will befall any station which has not agreed to participate in the auction. Finally, the State Associations argued that the Commission’s “problem solving” approach as set forth in the NPRM is too regulatory and not sufficiently marketplace-driven. For those reasons, they urged the FCC to hold the proceeding in abeyance until at least (i) a truly independent spectrum inventory has been commissioned and the results are made part of the record for public comment, (ii) the Office of Engineering and Technology’s Allotment Optimization Model (“AOM”) is made a part of the record for public comment, and (iii) the Commission has issued a legally binding commitment to the effect that no television station will be caused to suffer any adverse monetary or non-monetary effect, condition or consequence as a result of choosing not to turn in all or a portion of its spectrum via auction or otherwise. (Rule Making Pending)
2. In the Matter of Amendment of the Commission's Rules Related to Retransmission Consent (MB Docket No. 10-71), Joint Comments filed May 27, 2011 on behalf of the named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Comments strongly supported the current statutory scheme guaranteeing the must carry/retransmission consent rights of our Nation’s free, local, ubiquitous, commercial and noncommercial television broadcast stations. We expressed pleasure that the Commission had, in its NPRM, again expressly acknowledged that it does not possess the requisite statutory authority to impose mandatory interim carriage or binding arbitration even in the rare circumstance where the parties fail to reach a mutually agreeable arrangement through their retransmission consent negotiations. We contended that if, as is clearly the case here, the Commission may not directly undermine the must carry/retransmission consent rights of television stations, it follows as a matter of law that the Commission may not indirectly undermine those rights. We showed that the Commission’s proposal to eliminate the network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules would undermine those rights by removing the ability of television stations to deny an MVPD the programming that the television station had developed or acquired at great expense, even in the rare circumstance where the station and the MVPD were unable for any reason to come to mutually acceptable retransmission consent terms. Given the undermining effect that the elimination of the network non-duplications and/or syndicated exclusivity rules would have on the must carry/retransmission consent scheme established by Congress, the State Associations contended that the Commission would be acting in an arbitrary and capricious way if it were to eliminate either of those rules. We maintained that informing and empowering subscribers, not government intervention, is the only lawful and otherwise appropriate way to address potential MVPD service disruptions. Accordingly, in order to ensure that consumers are not caught unaware in the atypical circumstance when retransmission consent negotiations reach an impasse and that such consumers are sufficiently empowered to protect themselves, we urged the Commission to amend Section 73.1603 of its rules (advance notice required before any signals are deleted) by (i) applying the rule to all MVPDs, (ii) expanding the advance notice from thirty (30) days to sixty (60) days; and (iii) requiring MVPDs to waive any termination fees for subscribers who wish toterminate their service in response to a notice issued pursuant to Section 73.1603, as amended. (Rule Making Pending)
3. In re Notice of Public Information Collection(s) Being Reviewed by the FCC, Comments Requested on whether the FCC's public inspection file rules should be retained in their present form (OMB Control No. 3060-0214), Joint Comments filed on June 17, 2011 on behalf of the Named State Broadcasters Associations. The Joint Comments urged the FCC to temporarily suspend its enforcement of its commercial and noncommercial public inspection file rules ("PIF Rules") until such time as it fully reviews and updates those rules as well as its related enforcement policies. Such suspension would not apply to the documents required to be placed in a station's political file. We argued that the Commission is no less accountable than is OMB under the requirements of the Paperwork Reduction (the "PRA"). The PIF Rules are over 45 years old and there has been no recent effort by the Commission, notwithstanding the requirements of the PRA, to justify the PIF Rules taking into account (i) the decades old lack of any sustained, interest among members of the public (except for representatives or candidates and political parties to inspect political files) to actually review the documents in station public inspection files, (ii) the very significant staffing burden of maintaining an up-to-date public inspection file that has grown in length, scope and complexity over the years, (iii) the current availability of many of the same documents on the FCC's own website, (iv) the unreasonably high base fine for a public inspection file violation ($10,000) particularly when compared with the base fines for other types of violations, and (v) the fact that the cycle for radio station license renewals has just begun (with television stations scheduled to begin filing their renewal applications in less than 12 months) which potentially adds to the burden on thousands of stations which must self-disclose any public file deficiencies going back eight years. (Matter Pending)
These examples of advocacy before the FCC well illustrate how vigorous the Oregon Association of Broadcasters and other participating State Broadcasters Associations have been in protecting and advancing the best interests of the free, local, over-the-air, radio and television industries before the FCC.