Arizona Broadcasters Association

GOVERNMENT RELATIONS

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  • 17 May 2018 2:55 PM | Anonymous

    Today, your Association, along with the State Broadcasters Associations for all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, filed Joint Reply Comments in the FCC’s proceeding reassessing FCC Form 397, the EEO Mid-Term Report, and other actions relating to enforcement of the FCC’s EEO Rule.  A copy of the Joint Reply Comments can be found here. 

         The Joint Reply Comments urged the FCC to: (1) promptly eliminate the current requirement that TV stations with five or more full-time employees, and radio stations with 11 or more full-time employees, file FCC Form 397, the EEO Mid-Term Report, since it is now redundant to information already publicly available in stations’ online public files; (2) reject calls by some commenters to reinstate Form 395, the Annual Employment Report, which requires a numeric breakdown of a station’s staff by race, ethnicity, and gender categorized by job position; and (3) reject any suggestion that the FCC seek to alter its enforcement of the EEO Rule based upon the racial, ethnic, and gender composition of a particular station’s staff.  

        The filing of Annual Employment Reports was suspended by the FCC in 2001 after a coalition of State Broadcasters Associations successfully challenged the FCC’s previous EEO Rule in court.  The court held that the EEO Rule was unconstitutional in that it judged stations’ EEO performance based not upon their individual hiring practices, but upon whether those practices led to a work force that matched the demographics of a station’s market.  The Joint Reply Comments noted that the proposals made by some commenters in this proceeding would run afoul of these same constitutional restrictions.


  • 26 Mar 2018 10:15 AM | Anonymous

    upcoming fcc deadlines

    2018 First Quarter Children’s Television Programming Documentation

    The next Children’s Television Programming Report must be filed with the FCC and placed in stations’ public inspection files by April 10, 2018, reflecting programming aired during the months of January, February, and March 2018.

     

    2018 First Quarter Transition Progress Report Due on April 10 for Stations Being Repacked

    Each full power and Class A TV station being repacked must file its next Transition Progress Report with the FCC by April 10, 2018. The Report must detail the progress a station has made in constructing facilities on its newly-assigned channel and in terminating operations on its current channel during the months of January, February, and March 2018.

     

    2018 First Quarter Issues/Programs List Advisory for Broadcast Stations

    The next Quarterly Issues/Programs List (“Quarterly List”) must be placed in stations’ public inspection files by April 10, 2018, reflecting information for the months of January, February, and March 2018.

    All info courtesy of:

    Scott R. Flick

    Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP


  • 1 Mar 2018 2:16 PM | Anonymous

    The ABA group with Rep. Kyrsten Sinema

    It's been quite a week for the ABA on Capitol Hill! President & CEO Art Brooks was at the NASBA (National Alliance of State Broadcasters Associations) meetings Sunday and Monday, meeting with all 51 state association CEO’s sharing ideas and receiving briefings on all current & upcoming issues in Congress and at FCC. 

    Then the ABA delegation of Chairwoman, Anita Helt (KNXV-TV, Phoenix), Immediate Past Chairman, Michael Mallace (Sierra H Broadcasting, Phoenix), board member Ed Munson (KPHO-TV/KTVK-TV, Phoenix) and board member Rich Howe (KAZT-TV, Prescott/Phoenix) came to DC Monday for the NAB State Leadership Conference. There, the group heard from top Congressional members such as Greg Walden (R-OR) who is going to introduce an appropriations bill to add an addition $1.25 billion to the TV repack budget from spectrum auction funds so stations can be fully reimbursed for the move. 

    Finally, on Wednesday and Thursday the ABA delegation visited all of the Arizona Congressional delegation in the House and Senate. They met with either the representative and/or critical staff. Issues discussed were the TV spectrum repack and protection of TV translator frequencies in rural and tribal communities and protection from a Radio performance tax. 


    The ABA group with Rep. Tom O'Halleran

  • 22 Feb 2018 1:48 PM | Anonymous

    Members of the ABA Board of directors are headed to Washington, DC next week for the annual NAB State Leadership Conference. 

    ABA President & CEO. Art Brooks will represent the ABA at the NASBA meetings for two days sharing ideas and hearing from colleagues for all state broadcasters associations. 

    Then the AZ delegation arrives for the NAB State Leadership Conference. This is a full day of hearing from key policy makers in the House and Senate covering current and future issues facing the broadcast industry. The four station representatives will be Anita Helt (KNXV-TV), Ed Munson (KPHO-TV), Michael Mallace (Sierra H. Broadcasting), and Rich Howe (KAZT-TV).

    After the conference, the AZ delegation will head to Capitol Hill for meetings with the AZ members of Congress to discuss pressing issues such as the Radio Performance Tax, TV Repack issues and Retransmission consent. There will be a full report after the conference from your ABA.

  • 14 Feb 2018 11:06 AM | Anonymous

    March 1 is your deadline to have your public file online at the FCC web site. If by chance you’ve been waiting or aren’t sure how to do this, here is a notice for you: David Oxenford of Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP has outlined the five steps you need to take. Click the link below to check them out.

    With the March 1 Deadline Looming, What Should Radio Stations Be Doing to Prepare Their Online Public File? – Five Questions About Station Obligations



  • 4 Jan 2018 10:29 PM | Anonymous

    The following is a memo from Dawn M. Sciarrino, the ABA’s legal counsel:

    MEMORANDUM
    TO: All Broadcasting Clients and Friends of the Firm
    FROM: Dawn M. Sciarrino and Christine McLaughlin
    DATE: January 3, 2018
    RE: Upcoming FCC Deadlines and Rule Changes

    The New Year is off to a busy start for broadcasters. In 2017, the FCC adopted a number of changes to its rules, with effective dates and deadlines set for early 2018.

    Online Public File – March 1st Deadline
    Among the most significant changes for radio broadcasters is the transition of the local public inspection file to an online system accessed via the FCC’s website. TV broadcasters moved to online public files in 2014, and radio is now in the midst of a similar transition. Radio stations with more than 5 full time employees in the top 50 markets were required implement their online public files by December 24, 2017. The deadline for all other radio broadcasters to complete the transition is March 1, 2018.

    Stations may log onto the online public file at https://publicfiles.fcc.gov/admin/ using their facility ID and an FCC-assigned passcode. To obtain the passcode for a station, the licensee should login to an “Owner Dashboard” from https://publicfiles.fcc.gov/admin/owner-login/, using its FRN and its associated password. The FCC has indicated that documents should be uploaded in their “native format” wherever possible; consequently, if the document in question is prepared in Word or Excel, licensees should upload the document in its existing form unless it is technically unable to do so. If all of your stations are not populating or if you have other problems with the system, please call us.

    Please also note that, at the top of the screen in the system, you will see a statement as to whether your station’s profile is “Off” or “On” for public viewing. If that statement indicates that public view is “Off” (which is the default), you will need to click on the word “Off” to change it to enable the public to view your file.

    As of March 1st, all existing documents that are required to be kept in the local public inspection file must be uploaded to the online system, with one exception. Political documents that pre-date the effective date of the rule are exempt from the requirement that they be uploaded. Licensees may upload those pre-existing political documents if they like; otherwise, they are be retained for their two year retention period in a paper file. New political documents, however, must be uploaded “immediately.”

    The FCC will automatically upload most documents filed with it electronically or generated by it (e.g. ownership reports, assignment or transfer applications, construction permit applications, licenses, etc.). However, licensees must upload documents that not filed at the FCC and which must be maintained in the public file (e.g., Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, Annual EEO Public Inspection File Reports, copies of Time Brokerage or Joint Sales Agreements, a list of any “citizens agreements”, compliance certifications for local public notice of applications, and information regarding FCC investigations). Similarly, items that are required to be placed in the public file but are filed manually (e.g., AM license applications on Form 302-AM) must be uploaded by the licensee. Stations that have a website must include a link to the first page of the station’s online public file on the website home page.

    Early last year, the FCC eliminated the requirement that stations maintain copies of correspondence from the public in their public files. Therefore, licensees need not retain a paper public file for that correspondence; if a licensee chooses to move its pre-existing political file to the online system, there will no longer be any need to maintain a physical file at all.

    Ownership Reports – March 2nd Deadline
    Biennial Ownership Reports are due to be filed on or before March 2, 2018. The FCC postponed the deadline from December 1, 2017, opening the LMS system for the filing of the Reports on that date. The FCC form 323 and 323-E can be accessed at https://enterpriseefiling.fcc.gov/dataentry/login.html. While the Ownership Reports are available for completion in LMS, the system has not previously been used for radio filings, and it is possible that some information that should prefill (for example, licenses associated with an FRN) may not do so accurately. Licensees are advised to login in well in advance of the March 2nd deadline.

    Both commercial and non-commercial licensees must file their Ownership Reports during the current window. Noncommercial broadcasters previously filed on the anniversary date of their license renewal filing, a system that was put on hold last year in anticipation of this year’s filing deadline.

    Despite the extension, filers must still provide data on the ownership of their stations as of October 1, 2017. The FCC has indicated that owners who sell their station between October 1st and the new deadline will need to file their own biennial reports, even if they no longer own any stations.
    EEO – Annual EEO Public File Report

    In April 2017, the FCC issued a declaratory ruling that a broadcaster can rely solely on online sources in its recruiting “where doing so meets the ‘widely disseminate’ requirement of the rules.” Broadcasters are free to select the number and type of recruitment sources that they use, and may even choose rely on a single online job posting, as long as doing so meets the requirement for “wide dissemination.” FCC does not require all online job postings to be accompanied by on-air information about the vacancy.

    FCC encourages broadcasters to consider three factors in deciding whether their online recruiting meets the standard: (1) whether the online job posting is easy to find; (2) job openings should be posted online for an adequate period of time with auditable interview records maintained; and (3) broadcasters should “continue to cultivate job referral relationships with resources that are likely to include diverse candidates.”

    Licensees should note that no EEO requirement was changed by the declaratory ruling. For example, even though broadcasters no longer need to reach out to community groups to meet the requirement of wide dissemination of job openings, a separate “prong” of the FCC’s EEO policy requires that broadcasters notify community groups that have specifically asks to be notified of job openings. All of the EEO rule’s non-vacancy specific outreach requirements remain in effect; consequently, all licensees must still engage in two or four (depending on the size of the station’s market and number of employees) of the outreach activities detailed in the rule for every two-year period of the license term.

    In particular, stations must still maintain all of the same documentation regarding their recruitment for job openings, as well as non-vacancy specific outreach, and must still place a report of their EEO efforts in the public file annually, on the anniversary of the filing of their renewal applications. The annual EEO Public File Report, due on the filing of your license renewal application, must both be placed in the local public file, uploaded to the online public file and posted on the station’s website, if it has one. The station may comply with its obligation to post the EEO Public File Report to its website by posting a link to the Report in the online public file, if the link connects directly to the actual report – it is not sufficient that the link connect to the home page of the public file. The EEO Public File Report must include information for the station’s employment unit (i.e., commonly owned stations in the same market that share at least one employee) for the preceding year, including a list of all full-time vacancies filled, by job title; information regarding the recruitment source(s) used to fill each such vacancy, including identifying any organizations that requested notice of vacancies; identification of the recruitment source that referred the successful candidate for each of the listed vacancies; the total number of interviewees for full time vacancies in the past year, and the total number referred by each recruitment source; and a description of the employment unit’s non-vacancy specific outreach initiatives. Supporting documentation for each of the vacancies need not be placed in the public file, but must be maintained until the station’s next renewal application is granted, and available if requested by the FCC.

    The chance of the FCC requesting that information is not negligible – the agency continues to conduct random audits of EEO compliance. As recently as mid-December 2017, it issued a Notice of Apparent Liability in the amount of $20,000 to a licensee whose audit response revealed a number of EEO violations, including failure to recruit for all full-time vacancies, failing to provide notice of vacancies to an organization who had requested notice, and failing to maintain sufficient records of number or sources of interviewees for various vacancies – a failure which, the FCC observed, prevented the licensee from preparing accurate annual reports, placing all of the required information in the stations’ public files, and effectively analyzing the its recruitment practices, all independent violations of the EEO rule. Licensees must remain mindful that the relaxation of the EEO rules with regard to the use of online job postings has not relaxed any of their other EEO obligations.

    Issues/Programs Lists – Quarterly
    Licensees must place their issues/programs lists for the fourth quarter of 2017 in their public files on or before January 10, 2018. As these lists are not filed with the FCC, the license must upload the list to its online public file. Issues/program lists for the first quarter of 2018 must be uploaded to the public file by April 10, 2018; second quarter lists must be uploaded by July 10, 2018; and third quarter lists must be uploaded by October 10, 2018. Under the electronic public file regime, the system will identify the date and time that documents are uploaded; therefore, it is critical that these items be timely uploaded to the public file.

    Elimination of the Main Studio Rule – Effective January 8th
    At its October 2017 meeting, the FCC adopted an order eliminating the requirement that a broadcast station maintain a main studio in close proximity to its city of license that is open to the public and staffed during normal business hours. The abolition of the main studio rule becomes effective on Monday, January 8, 2018.

    As of next Monday, the main studio rule, including the requirements of local programming capability and minimum studio staffing requirements, are eliminated. Licensees are be required to maintain a local or toll-free number accessible to residents of the station’s city of license, which must be answered during normal business hours of the station.

    Stations that have fully transitioned to the online public file (including by uploading existing political file materials) will no longer be required to keep any physical documents in their communities of license. However, stations that have not yet completed that transition, or that chose to maintain their pre-existing political file records in paper form, must maintain a paper file in their city of license until all of the documents required to be in the file are transitioned to the online public file. The file must be maintained at a location in the community of license that is open during normal business hours (e.g. a public library or an office of a local business).

    FM Translators – Last Call for AM Licensees
    Those AM licensees who have not filed for an FM translator in any of the filing windows opened in 2016 and 2017 will have one last opportunity to apply for a translator at the end of January. The new window will be open from January 25, 2018 to January 31, 2018 for participation in the cross-service Auction 100. Modification applications to existing translator licenses and construction permits will be frozen prior to and during the window; the filing freeze will be in place from January 18, 2018 through January 31, 2018.

    Radio Renewals
    Finally, radio station licensees should be advised that the renewal cycle starts next year. Licensees in DC, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia must file their renewal applications by June 1, 2019. Licensees are reminded that the renewal application requires a number of certifications, including that all documentation required to be placed in the station’s public file has been so placed, at the appropriate time. Although documents filed electronically with the FCC, such as applications and Biennial Ownership Reports, will be automatically uploaded to a station’s online public file by the FCC, licensees must take care to ensure the timely uploading of all other materials required by the public file. Under the online system, the FCC and any possible protesters will know the date that information is placed into the public file, and any delay in uploading required materials will likely be subject to scrutiny.

    The foregoing are some of the more important deadlines facing licensees in the new year and beyond. If you have questions regarding these or any other FCC requirements, please do not hesitate to contact us.


  • 24 Aug 2017 10:33 PM | Anonymous

    FCC Chair Ajit Pai Talks Translators with the ABA

    Newly-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai visited Arizona this week, and his trip included a meeting with the Arizona Broadcasters Association. He met with ABA President & CEO Art Brooks and two ABA member-station GMs — Ed Munson, KPHO-TV / KTVK-TV and Alejandra Santamaria, KTVW-TV Univision.

    The conversation was centered on the subject of TV translators, which are critical to reach the areas in the central and northern parts of the state with free access to television. A lot of the viewers in these areas do not have cable or satellite and rely heavily on the free access through the translators for their programming, news — and especially critical — emergency notifications. Even in Phoenix 22% of the viewers in the market area depend on over the air signals.

    The television industry is already preparing for the re-packing stage of the FCC Spectrum Auction which mandates that all TV stations must broadcast at channel 36 or below. Many of the translators are above those frequencies and are being hunted by telecom giants like T-Mobile — which was the big buyer of spectrum in the auction, and Microsoft for other wireless and broadband uses. Our intent is to protect the interests of that vulnerable population that receives free TV through those frequencies.

    The Chairman of course doesn’t have immediate fixes for this problem but is studying it seriously. This is primarily a western states issue and our Congressional delegations are also being asked to help as well. Representatives Tom O’Halleran and Paul Gosar represent the largest districts in AZ and have the majority of TV translators within their jurisdiction. They have agreed to co-sponsor a letter to hopefully to be signed by the entire AZ delegation that will go to the FCC Chairman to address the issue.

    For more on the issue here’s what the National Association of Broadcasters has to say about the rush for Broadband frequencies.


  • 15 Aug 2017 10:36 PM | Anonymous

    What You Need to Know Before Considering Marijuana Ads on Your Station

    by Dawn Sciarrino, Sciarrino & Shubert PLLC

    More than half the states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws permitting marijuana use to greater or lesser degrees.  Arizona is among the states permitting medical marijuana; a handful of states, now including Arizona’s neighbors California and Nevada, permit the sale of pot for recreational use.  According to Forbes, legal marijuana sales in 2016 amounted to more than $6.7 billion, an approximate 30% growth from 2015.

    Such a large and booming industry would seem to be a tempting target for broadcasters seeking new advertising revenue.  But unfortunately, the risks of doing so are likely to outweigh the potential gain.  It is important to remember that marijuana is still illegal under federal law.  Broadcasters, as federal licensees, should think long and hard before advertising any product whose sale and possession is a federal offense.

    Although under the previous administration, the Department of Justice generally took a hands-off approach to states permitting marijuana sales, continuing forbearance cannot be counted on.  The FCC has not yet ruled on how advertising a drug criminalized by federal law would affect a broadcaster’s qualifications as a licensee; absent agency guidance, any station accepting marijuana advertising could well be putting its license at risk.

    Sciarrino & Shubert PLLC provides a free hotline to Arizona Broadcasters Association members.  Any Association member may call for answers to a wide range of legal and regulatory questions dealing with broadcasting issues, including advertising policies, political time rules, promotions, lotteries, EAS, and a host of other concerns.


  • 31 Jul 2017 10:38 PM | Anonymous

    FCC Schedules Nationwide EAS Test for September 27, 2017

    EmergencyAlertSystemThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a public notice outlining the upcoming nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS), as well as mandatory registration and reporting deadlines for each EAS Participant.

    The national test is scheduled for 11:20 a.m. Arizona Time on September 27, 2017.  (A secondary test date is October 4, 2017, “if necessary”).  EAS Participants must be prepared to take part in a test on both the primary and alternate test dates.  All EAS Participants are required to participate in this nationwide test.

    This test will use the National Periodic Test (NPT) code, the location code for “All of United States.” FIPS number: 000000; and will be issued via FEMA Open IPAWS.

    The results of the nationwide EAS test will be captured and analyzed using the new EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS).

    Important Dates

    1) All EAS Participants are reminded that they are required to register with ETRS and must complete the filing of ETRS Form One on or before August 28, 2017.

    2) EAS Participants shall file the “day of test” information sought by ETRS Form Two before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on September 27, 2017.  This is the same day as the national test.

    3) EAS Participants shall file the detailed post-test data sought by ETRS Form Three on or before November 13, 2017.

    Important Links

     FCC’s ETRS page.

    Nationwide Test Public Notice.

    EAS Operating Handbook - 2017 (pdf)

    “To Do” List for Broadcasters and Other EAS Participants, from Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP (NOTE: This is from 2016 but the information is still relevant.)


  • 17 Jul 2017 10:48 PM | Anonymous

    ABA’s Letter to the Governor on Microsoft’s Use of White Spaces

    The following is a letter from Arizona Broadcasters Association President and CEO Art Brooks to Gov. Doug Ducey regarding Microsoft’s request to use “white spaces” for potential broadband use by unlicensed devices.

    July 17, 2017

    The Honorable Doug Ducey
    Governor of Arizona
    State Capitol Building, 9th floor Executive Tower
    Phoenix, AZ 85007

    Dear Governor Ducey:

    It has come to my attention that Microsoft may ask you and some of your counterparts to sign a letter to the Federal Communications Commission supporting Microsoft’s request to reserve a third channel of broadcast TV spectrum – commonly referred to as “white spaces” – for potential broadband use by unlicensed devices. Such an allocation would harm rural Arizonans who rely on local TV stations, as well as the stations themselves. On behalf of Arizona broadcasters, I respectfully request that you decline supporting Microsoft’s effort.

    The FCC recently completed a TV spectrum auction in which any company interested in advancing mobile broadband use could purchase spectrum that had been sold back to the FCC by various broadcasters. Microsoft – a $540 billion company – declined to purchase spectrum in this auction which netted about $7 billion for the federal government.

    As a result of the spectrum auction, some of Arizona’s full-power and Class A TV stations that chose not to sell their spectrum in the auction must move to new channels in the condensed broadcast TV band. This process, called the “spectrum repack”, also will affect dozens of FM
    Radio stations, some of which will be forced to change transmission towers.

    Also, 133 broadcast TV translators and a number of low-power TV stations in Arizona will either be involuntarily relocated or forced off the air. Translators are used extensively in Arizona’s rural markets to ensure the far corners of these expansive TV markets are served with local news, weather warnings and Emergency Alert System messages. Because the broadcast TV band is shrinking, it is unlikely that all these services will be able to stay on the air. Reserving an additional “white spaces” channel will force more of these vital broadcast services off the air entirely.

    Unlicensed “white space” devices already are permitted to operate on any available broadcast channel and channel 37. Following the spectrum repack”, such devices also will be permitted to operate in a newly created duplex gap that separates the new mobile broadband services. Also, Congress and the FCC are actively considering other bands for use by these devices.

    Rather than risk depriving rural Arizonans of their local broadcast TV service – and the lifesaving emergency warnings stations provide – I hope you will agree that it is prudent, instead, to allow for new authorizations by Congress and the FCC that will accommodate greater use of “white space” devices. This also is the position of President Trump’s new FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, as you will see in the attached comments made in a recent Obama-era proceeding on the issue. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to answering any questions you or your staff may have.

    Respectfully,
    Art Brooks
    President & CEO


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