January 9, 2018 On December 14, 2017, the FCC released a Report and Order adopting a new voluntary Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) event code – “BLU” – to enable the delivery of Blue Alerts. The Blue Alert code will cover emergency information related to a law enforcement officer who is missing, seriously injured, or killed in the line of duty, or when there is an imminent credible threat to an officer.
FCC Grants Small Cable Operators’ Market Modification Request; Operators Overcome Network Interference to Re-obtain Full Local Signal
December 19, 2017 On December 7, 2017, the FCC’s Media Bureau adopted a Memorandum Opinion & Order granting a joint petition filed by three small Kentucky cable operators seeking to modify a broadcast station’s local television market. The Electric Plant Board of the City of Russellville, Duo County Telecom, and North Central Telephone Cooperative (collectively, the “Petitioners”) sought to modify the television market of WBKO, licensed to Bowling Green, Kentucky to include six communities assigned to the Nashville, Louisville and Lexington designated market areas (“DMAs”).
FCC Adopts Rules Permitting Broadcaster’s Voluntary Use of ATSC 3.0; New Signal Standard is Not Backward Compatible with Current MVPD Equipment
December 5, 2017 On November 16, 2017, the FCC adopted an Order permitting broadcast stations to voluntarily transmit signals in the new ATSC 3.0 technical standard, also known as “NextGen TV.” Before doing so, stations will need to obtain approval from the FCC and will also be required to make their signal available in the current ATSC 1.0 technical standard through simulcasting. While the Order does not require cable operators to carry ATSC 3.0 signals under the FCC’s must-carry rules, the FCC declined to adopt rules addressing the issue of ATSC 3.0 signals in retransmission consent negotiations.
FCC Issues Notice of Violation of Tower Lighting Rules; Antenna Structure Owners Are Reminded to Register and Maintain Structures
November 21, 2017 Last week, the New Orleans Office of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Violation (“NOV”) to East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc. for potentially violating the FCC’s antenna structure lighting rules. Specifically, the NOV claims that the lighting system on a tower owned by East Arkansas Broadcasters, Inc. in Jonesboro, Arkansas is not currently in working order.
FINAL REMINDER: National EAS Test Form 3 Due November 13, 2017
November 7, 2017 As detailed in the Public Notice released by the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, all Emergency Alert System (“EAS”) Participants, including cable operators, must report detailed information about their performance in the national EAS test held on September 27, 2017 by filing their EAS Test Reporting System (“ETRS”) Form Three by November 13, 2017.
FCC Reminds Video Programming Distributors of Televised Emergency Information Accessibility Obligations; Distributors Must Make Televised Emergency Information Accessible to Persons Who Are Deaf, Hard of Hearing, Blind or Visually Impaired
October 9, 2017 On September 28, 2017, the FCC released a Public Notice reminding video programming distributors (“VPDs”), including cable operators and other distributors of video programming, of their obligation to make televised emergency information accessible, as required by FCC rules, to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or visually impaired. The Public Notice also contains recommendations for compliance measures and a consumer’s guide to filing complaints.