Federal Communications Commission

Broadcasting Anew

[Commentary] It is always special to be in attendance at the annual National Association of Broadcasters Show, and 2014 was no exception.

What I took away from our discussion was the realization that today's media universe can no longer be viewed through myopic lenses and historic silos, and that the demarcation between over-the-air, cable, Internet and satellite broadcasting makes erstwhile legacy distinctions much harder to maintain.

Secondly, I always appreciate the chance to walk the show floor to see, firsthand, the innovative developments in broadcast technology.

Finally, the NAB provides a unique opportunity for regulators to talk to the industry professionals and operators who do not typically make it to Washington to lobby on policy issues. These real-world workers provide us with a perspective that is both realistic and refreshing, and I always learn more than I leave behind.

FCC Launches 2014 Media Ownership Rules Review

The Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing 2010 Quadrennial Review of broadcast ownership rules has generated a high level of interest and participation, creating an extensive record that continues to attract significant and substantive input well after the formal comment periods have expired.

Such participation demonstrates that the FCC’s broadcast ownership rules continue to be of importance and interest to market participants, public watchdogs, and consumers alike. The FCC wishes to build on that record to resolve the ongoing 2010 proceeding, and the Commission is cognizant of its statutory obligation to review the broadcast ownership rules every four years.

To accomplish both objectives, with this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) the FCC is initiating this 2014 Quadrennial Review; incorporating the existing 2010 record into this proceeding; proposing rules that are formulated based on the evaluation of that existing record; and seeking new and additional information and data on market conditions and competitive indicators as they exist today.

Ultimately, the rules the FCC adopts in this 2014 proceeding will be based on a comprehensive, refreshed record that reflects the most current evidence regarding the media marketplace. The FCC also considers related issues posed in the 2010 Quadrennial Review proceeding concerning the attribution and disclosure of agreements between broadcast stations, and in the accompanying Report and Order, the FCC determines that certain television joint sales agreements (JSAs) are attributable.

Issues Related to Allegations of Warehousing and Vertical Foreclosure in the Satellite Space Segment

The Federal Communications Commission terminated a Notice of Inquiry that explores issues relating to allegations that certain fixed-satellite service operators are "warehousing" satellite orbital locations and foreclosing competitors from purchasing capacity on their satellites.

The record the FCC received in response to the questions raised in the Notice of Inquiry was sparse and came only from two commonly situated stakeholders -- FSS satellite operators Intelsat and SES. They argue that further action by the FCC regarding vertical foreclosure is unwarranted.

FCC Agents and USDOJ Seize Equipment from NYC Pirate Radio Stations

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Travis LeBlanc, Acting Enforcement Bureau Chief of the Federal Communications Commission, announced the unsealing of two complaints seeking the forfeiture of radio transmission and production equipment allegedly used in the illegal broadcast of pirate radio stations on a total of four different FM frequencies, and further announced that on April 2, 2014, FCC agents and Deputy US Marshals, pursuant to warrants, seized the radio transmission and production equipment identified in the two complaints.

FCC Announces May 6 E-rate Modernization Workshop

The Federal Communications Commission will host an E-rate Modernization Workshop on Tuesday, May 6, 2014 in the Commission Meeting Room (TW-C305).

The E-rate Modernization Workshop will provide an opportunity for the FCC and E-rate stakeholders to discuss the challenge of delivering high-speed connectivity to and within schools and libraries and highlight successful strategies. Additional details concerning the workshop agenda and panelists will be forthcoming.

FCC Announces Agenda For April 17-18 Workshop On Technology Transition And Public Safety

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provides an initial agenda and session participant information for the workshop on “Public Safety Imperatives for All-IP Networks” scheduled for April 17, 2014 and April 18, 2014 in Washington, DC. This workshop will explore the impact of the technology transition on key public safety, emergency response, and national security functions.

FCC to Hold Workshop In Honor Of Older Americans Month

In recognition of Older Americans Month, the Federal Communications Commission’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau will host a workshop on May 22, 2014, in Washington, DC.

The workshop will provide information on online safety, communicating during emergencies, and how broadband and other technologies can be used to facilitate aging in place and telehealth. The event will include technology demonstrations.

Modernizing E-Rate for Indian Country

Acting on the Federal Communications Commission’s commitments, I took my first trip to Indian Country as FCC Chairman, visiting the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

I had several meetings with Oglala Lakota leaders to discuss topics ranging from economic development to healthcare, but the greatest emphasis of my visit was education, specifically how the FCC’s E-Rate program can help expand digital learning opportunities, including for our nation’s rural and Tribal populations. I heard from teachers, students, and administrators at Loneman School and Little Wound School about how E-Rate has helped provide basic Internet access to their school, but also how E-Rate can, and needs to do even more.

In particular, these schools need more bandwidth to enable opportunities like remote tutoring and taking advanced math and science courses online, and they need Wi-Fi connectivity that can support mobile devices like tablets and digital textbooks. They also need an E-Rate program that’s more user-friendly.

In the past, Loneman, like too many schools, missed out on E-Rate support because of confusion with the program’s rules. All of our students, whether they are attending a Tribal school in South Dakota or a public school in South Carolina deserve to have full access to modern digital learning tools. That’s why modernizing E-Rate to simplify the program, improve its efficiency, and deliver faster, Wi-Fi connectivity to schools and libraries is one of the Commission’s highest priorities.

FCC Chairman Wheeler Applauds DOJ Indictment of Three Men On Lifeline Fraud Charges

The Department of Justice charged three men with allegedly defrauding the FCC’s Lifeline program of approximately $32 million.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler issued this statement:

“The FCC is working hard to combat fraud in the Lifeline program, and I applaud our Office of Inspector General, the FCC’s Lifeline policy and enforcement teams, and the program administrator, USAC, for their considerable contributions that helped lead to the criminal fraud indictment. I particularly appreciate the continuing support provided by our law enforcement partners at the DOJ and FBI.

"Lifeline helps ensure that all Americans can afford phone service, providing connections to jobs, family and 9-1- 1. But we will not tolerate abuse of this program, and are gratified to see the results of our hard work to battle fraud.”

Remarks of FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Before The 2014 Spring Meeting Of WTA -- Advocates For Rural Broadband

On April 9, 2014, Commissioner Ajit Pai of the FCC delivered remarks at the Spring Conference of WTA -- Advocates for Rural Broadband. During his address, he emphasized that the Federal Communications Commission must take seriously the promise of the Communications Act to “make available, so far as possible, to all the people of the United States . . . a rapid, efficient, Nation-wide, and world-wide wide and radio communication service with adequate facilities at reasonable charges.”

He then offered a number of proposals for doing just that:

  • Rate Floor. Freeze the FCC-imposed rate floor indefinitely and reexamine the underlying policy.
  • QRA Benchmarks. Strike the QRA benchmarks from the books.
  • Helping Small Carriers Gain Scale. Streamline FCC review of transactions involving geographically adjacent rural carriers seeking to merge.
  • Reducing Paperwork Burdens. Small carriers are facing death by 1,000 paper cuts.