FCC Extends Ownership Reporting Deadline

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has postponed the filing date for biennial (every two years) ownership reports from December 1, 2017 to March 2, 2018, giving broadcasters more time to acclimate to a new reporting system.

The Media Bureau said it was doing so of its own volition, rather than in response to a request from the National Association of Broadcasters, which had asked the FCC to suspend the deadline, perhaps indefinitely.

Owners of broadcast stations or parties with attributable interests are required every two years to declare that ownership and interest with the FCC.

The bureau said it was moving the deadline to give the FCC more time to implement a revised electronic version of the requisite reporting forms “to ensure that filers have sufficient time to complete and submit their reports.”

“The extension of time we grant today addresses NAB’s primary concerns that the rollout of the revised forms … goes smoothly and that broadcasters have sufficient time to familiarize themselves with and test the new forms. Thus, our action today essentially implements NAB’s suggestion that we postpone the 2017 biennial filing window to ensure the successful implementation of the revised forms,” the bureau said.




NAB’s Gordon Smith Signs Contract Extension

Gordon Smith

The National Association of Broadcasters has announced that NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith has agreed to a contract extension that will keep him in the position until March 31, 2023. The announcement was made by NAB Joint Board Chair Caroline Beasley.

Smith joined NAB in November 2009 and oversees the advocacy efforts of thousands of local radio and television stations across America. He is a former two-term United States Senator from Oregon (1996-2008) and was a successful entrepreneur before launching his career in politics.

“Gordon Smith has shown a steady hand guiding America’s local radio and television stations through the public policy challenges of Washington,” said Beasley, CEO of Beasley Media Group. “He has enormous credibility on Capitol Hill and at the FCC, and is a determined advocate for local broadcasting. We are thrilled that we will benefit from Gordon’s leadership into 2023.”

“I am grateful for the trust placed in me by the NAB Board with this new contract,” said Smith. “Broadcasting plays an indispensable role in the world of communications, and I’m committed to an innovative agenda that allows local TV and radio to thrive on emerging media platforms. I’m honored to lead a talented NAB team fighting for viewers and listeners who rely on hometown TV and radio for the best in entertainment, quality local news and lifeline programming in a crisis.”




Pay TV Market Shrinking, But TV Homes Increasing

Nielsen is reporting that the number of TV homes has expanded to 119.6 million for the 2017-2018 season. For the 2016-2017 season, Nielsen said there were 118.4 million TV homes.  However, as TV households continue to expand, the number of homes with pay TV continues to decline. The number of pay TV subscriptions in the U.S. has fallen from 104.1 million in 2010 to 98.7 in 2016. Two-thirds of the decline came in the four years between 2013 and 2016.

The source of content for these new television homes is coming from two primary sources. The first, and perhaps biggest, group is streaming video to their TVs. Over the past three years, the penetration of enabled smart TVs has almost doubled, from 14% to 27%.~ At the same time, the number of homes using a streaming media player has increased from 18% to 29%.

The second source of content for these new television homes is good old antenna television. Between Q1 2015 and Q1 2017, the number of homes watching television with an antenna increased from 12.5 million to 15.2 million. However, almost all the increase in antenna homes came from homes that also have broadband. In those homes, it is likely people use both broadcast television and streaming services on the big screen.




Senate Passes ‘Sandy Act’ Making Radio, TV ‘First Responders’

INSIDERADIO reports that on its first day back to work after Hurricane Irma struck Florida, the Senate quickly approved the bill (S. 102) designating radio and TV as “first responders” during natural disasters. The bill saw several years of holdups, but ultimately, back-to-back hurricanes seemed to have convinced Congress to pass the Securing Access to Networks in Disasters Act—otherwise known as the SANDy Act.

The House earlier approved the bill, only to see it become hung up in the Senate once again. But that changed with a quick vote on Monday when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) asked for unanimous consent to the legislation without any floor debate. The bill now heads to the White House where it only needs President Trump’s signature to become law.

While many local officials turn to broadcasters during emergencies, there have been situations where things have become more contentious and, by passing a federal law, supporters say the SANDy bill would simply put into place guarantees already adopted in several states.

The bill’s passage drew positive reviews at the Federal Communications Commission. “We know that weather-related emergencies and other disasters can occur anywhere at any time, and this legislation comes not a moment too soon,” commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement, adding, “Among other things, it promises to help speed restoration of essential communications in times of disaster.”

The legislation has the backing of the National Association of Broadcasters, which says recognizing radio and TV’s first-informer role will keep local radio and TV stations on-air during times of emergencies. According to a recent NAB-commissioned survey, 57% of Americans turn to local radio and TV stations for updates during an emergency. That’s four-times more than text messaging, email or cable news channels. The online survey, conducted in March by Morning Consult, included a sample of 2,251 adults aged 18 and older.