Broadcasting

Free, over-the-air television and radio; community-based, low-power FM radio stations; public radio and television; and the obligations of licensees to serve the public interest. A key principle of federal communications law is that in exchange for free use of the public airwaves broadcasters agree to take actions to benefit the public. These principles are enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 in the mandate that "broadcasting serve the public interest, convenience and necessity."

FCC to Hold Open Commission Meeting December 10, 2020

The Federal Communications Commission will hold an Open Meeting on the subjects listed below on Thursday, December 10, 2020:

Commissioner Starks on Release of NPRM to Modify FM Booster Rules

Regarding the adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on whether to modify the FCC’s FM Booster Rules to permit geo-targeted content to originate from FM booster stations, which could provide a way for small and minority-owned stations to better serve their communities by offering hyper-localized content including alternative language news, weather, emergency alerts, and advertising periodically during the broadcast day:

Trump Appointee Unconstitutionally Interfered With Voice Of America, Judge Rules

The chief executive over the Voice of America and its sister networks has acted unconstitutionally in investigating what he claimed was a deep-seated bias against President Trump by his own journalists, Chief US District Judge for the District of Columbia Beryl Howell has ruled. Citing the journalists' First Amendment protections, Judge Howell ordered US Agency for Global Media CEO Michael Pack to stop interfering in the news service's news coverage and editorial personnel matters.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for December 2020 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the December Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Thursday, December 10, 2020:

To Safe and Secure Holidays... and Networks

National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien said the “number one concern” for democracy at home and abroad is the integrity of our communications networks.  In particular, he warned that installing equipment from Chinese firms in the backbone of our 5G networks could give the Communist Chinese government “backdoors to pull up every bit of data in the world.” I agree wholeheartedly.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for November 2020 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the November Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Wednesday, November 18, 2020:

A New Look For Familiar Themes

At our November open meeting, the Federal Communications Commission will be considering the following items:

US Agency for Global Media Targets Its Own Journalists' Independence

A regulatory "firewall" intended to protect Voice of America and its affiliated newsrooms from political interference in their journalism was swept aside by Michael Pack, a Trump appointee who assumed leadership of the US Agency for Global Media in June.

PBS Showed TV the Future. But What Does Its Own Look Like?

When PBS arrived a half century ago, television was essentially a three-network game, and PBS thrived by championing programming and audiences ignored by NBC, CBS and ABC. But that distinctiveness has faded in today’s world of hundreds of cable channels and seemingly unlimited streaming services, many built after rivals saw the commercial value in PBS’s embrace of food lovers, costume drama obsessives, home improvement tinkerers and other niches.

COVID-19 gives the FCC a platform to leverage educational programming

Months before COVID-19, the Federal Communications Commission voted to loosen broadcasters’ obligations to carry core “educational and informative” content across their networks. The National Association of Broadcasters thanked the FCC profusely, touting that obligations to carry “low-rated children’s programming” would have serious economic consequences when stations were already dealing with shrinking profits.