This Week in Regulation for Broadcasters: September 12, 2020 to September 18, 2020
Here are some of the regulatory and legal actions and developments of the last week of significance to broadcasters, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- Political advertising will continue to blanket the airwaves for the next month and a half and broadcasters need to remain vigilant in complying with all political advertising rules and obligations. We wrote on the blog this week about some of the sponsorship identification issues broadcasters should look out for, especially as busy station staffers are dealing with more orders and more ad copy. (Broadcast Law Blog)
- President Trump nominated Nathan Simington to fill FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s soon-to-be vacated seat. Simington currently serves as senior advisor at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and is said to have worked on NTIA’s petition asking the FCC to review Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives online platforms broad immunity from what users post on those platforms. O’Rielly’s re-nomination is believed to have been withdrawn over his public comments expressing legal concerns over the President Trump’s desire that the FCC take steps to limit this immunity. O’Rielly can serve through the end of this year or until Simington is confirmed by the Senate, whichever comes first. We wrote about O’Rielly’s nomination troubles and Section 230, here. O’Rielly testified before the House Communications Subcommittee and used his opening remarks to reflect on his time at the Commission. (O’Rielly Remarks).
- Chairman Ajit Pai circulated among his fellow Commissioners a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would, if adopted, require more specific disclosure when a broadcast station is airing programming that is directly or indirectly provided or sponsored by a foreign governmental entity. The new rules would include standardized disclosure language that specifically identifies the sponsoring foreign entity. (News Release)
- A recent consent decree serves as a reminder that changes to ownership and control of broadcast licenses require prior FCC approval. The licensee of two Nevada stations failed to request approval of a buy/sell and stock purchase agreement that gave another party control of the stations. Under the terms of the consent decree, the transaction will be approved, but the licensee must pay an $8,000 penalty and follow a compliance plan for three years. (Order)
- The FCC denied an Application for Review that sought to reverse the Media Bureau’s ruling that eighteen stations had failed to negotiate in good faith with DirecTV for retransmission consent. Each station faces a $512,228 penalty. We wrote about the earlier stages of this case and generally about the good faith negotiation requirement, here. (Memorandum Opinion and Order and Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture)
This summary of the week’s regulatory news for broadcasters comes from the attorneys at Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP in Washington, DC. (https://www.wbklaw.com/).