December FCC Meeting Important for Broadcasters

According to the Broadcast Law blog, the FCC released an agenda for the agency’s December meeting.

One of the main items of interest to the broadcasters is the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, looking to determine if the FCC should amend the cap limiting one TV station owner to stations reaching no more than 39 percent of the national audience. The FCC asks a series of questions, including whether it has the power to change the cap, or if the power is exclusively that of Congress.

Also on the agency’s agenda is a proposal for the Modernization of Media Regulation, looking at whether the FCC should change some of the requirements on cable operators and other MVPDs for giving written notice to customers about changes in their operations. Additionally, the FCC is looking to adopt a new event code for its EAS system – a Blue Alert to notify the public of an imminent threat to law enforcement personnel. Read more here.

10 Programming Predictions for the Next 25 Years

Gary Berkowitz

Editor’s Note: The views and opinions of this article do not necessarily reflect those of the MAB. Contact the MAB for information on the MAB’s official editorial policy.

By: Gary Berkowitz
Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting

Are you ready to change our industry?

Are you a decision maker? Do you have the courage to take these predictions and make them happen? I’m looking to partner with “Lets make it happen” owners and managers who are ready to make 2018 the year that radio history is made!

1. Some of the big groups will start to breakup once they realize that radio is a local media that needs “local care and tenderness.” Investors will lose patience and station sales will be made to local operators.

2. Somebody will figure out radio’s next revenue model. The era of 8-10 commercials in a row will end and we will get into a whole new system of presenting advertisers messages. Long, hard to listen thru clusters will no longer exist.

3. Radio will figure out how to monetize demo’s other than 25-54. Preteen stations will pop up as well as 50+ formats.

4. Since it will be owned by local operators, radio will go back to a 24/7 operation. This will increase the need for talent and also give new talent a chance to get on the air in overnights and weekends.

5. More and more stations will drop Nielsen. Since radio will move to a local model, results will matter more over ratings. Programming pressure will be on sounding great, getting results and being out in the community.

6. Programmers will look back at the golden era of top-40 radio and adapt many of its practices. Great DJ’s and exciting imaging will once again be a part of every radio station.

7. DJ’s will matter more than “10 in a Row.” Good ones will be in demand. Salaries will once again rise.

8. Programmers will realize the power of strong jingles for branding their image. Memorable and fun jingles will once again appear all across the nation. Smart programmers will listen to PAMS cuts and ask, “How do we take the idea behind these and make it work today?”

9. Radio will go back to being more “full service.” Information will be a big part of that mix. Many stations will go back to “News” all day long.

10. Realizing that commercials can be a tune-out, radio will adapt programs that test and improve the quality of commercials. Jerry Lee of WBEB, Philadelphia is ahead of the curve, as he is doing this now.

Gary Berkowitz is President of Detroit based Berkowitz Broadcast Consulting, specializing in ratings improvement for AC radio stations.

Copyright Royalty Board Announces Rate Increases for Webcasts

According to a report from Inside Radio, broadcasters will have to pay higher royalty fees for streaming in the next year.

The Copyright Royalty Board has announced the rates will increase 5.9 percent to $0.0018 per performance for non-subscription based webcasts like those offered by broadcast radio stations. Rates for non-interactive subscription services will rise 4.5 percent to $0.0023 per performance according to the Federal Register published on November 27.

A special discounted rate remains for noncommercial webcasters as long as they do not exceed 159,140 Aggregate Tuning Hours (ATH) in a given month on a station or single stream.

Second Window for AM Stations to Seek New FM Translators to Open January 25-31

David Oxenford - Color

David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP,

On December 4, the FCC released the Public Notice setting out the instructions for the final window for AM stations to get exclusive access to FM translator stations. This window, to be open in late January, is primarily for Class A and B AM stations that were not permitted to file in this summer’s window when Class C and D AM stations could file for new FM translators. But any AM licensee who did not file in this summer’s window, and who also did not acquire a translator last year during the period when AM licensees could acquire existing FM translators and move them up to 250 miles to rebroadcast their AM station, can also participate.

The final window will be open from January 25 through January 31. As in this summer’s window, mutually exclusive applications filed during that window will be resolved by an auction if they cannot be resolved by settlements or engineering solutions. Resolving mutually exclusive applications can be done only by filing settlements or technical amendments that comply with the minor change rules – meaning that the amendments can only amend to different sites on the same channel, or on channels three up and three down from that initially specified, or a channel precluded from use by the initially proposed channel because of Intermediate Frequency interference. Applicants cannot amend to any vacant channel that may be available in their area. In this summer’s window, most applicants were able to avoid mutual exclusivity with other applicants – but not all (as witnessed by the mutually exclusive groups that had until last week to settle their differences through dismissals for no more than out-of-pocket expenses or by engineering amendments – see our article here).

Like in this summer’s window, this Public Notice is complicated, as the FCC is treating these applications as those filed in preparation for an auction (see our post on the instructions for the summer window here). Applicants need to read this notice very carefully to avoid traps – traps which include having conversations with mutually exclusive applicants outside a future settlement window when engineering solutions to resolve conflicts between applications filed in the window will be allowed. There actually is a rule against “prohibited communications” outside of the settlement window – meaning that once an application is on file, mutually exclusive applicants can’t talk to each other about their applications except during these designated settlement windows.

As part of the Public Notice, the FCC also announced a filing freeze on any technical changes to existing translators so as to freeze the database that applicants will use to prepare their applications. The freeze will be in effect from January 18 through January 31.

In short, read these instructions carefully, and go over them with your attorney and engineer to make sure that you don’t inadvertently overlook some requirement that would result in your missing this last opportunity reserved for AM licensees to get a new FM translator.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

WXYZ-TV’s Stephen Clark Announces Retirement

Stephen Clark

WXYZ-TV (Detroit) anchor Stephen Clark has announced that he will retire at the end of February. Clark has been a 7 Action News anchor and multi-platform journalist for 16 years.

“Stephen has been a valued member of the 7 Action News team and has made a tremendous impact on our station and the Detroit community,” said Mike Murri, WXYZ and WMYD vice president and general manager. “In addition to reporting and anchoring our news each night, Stephen has been an integral part of all our signature events, including the North American International Auto Show, Detroit Grand Prix, Woodward Dream Cruise and the Campus Martius tree lighting. We wish Stephen the very best as he begins this exciting new chapter of his life. We will most certainly miss him here at Channel 7.”

Clark’s career in broadcast journalism spans more than four decades, including anchoring at KCNC in Denver, KGTV in San Diego and WCBS in New York. He has covered events around the world, including the conflict in Bosnia, the Los Angeles riots and the California wildfires. He was a correspondent for CBS at the time of the 9/11 attack, and covered every aspect of the event.

Clark is known to WXYZ viewers for his devotion to his family and his passion for country music. He created the Scarlet’s Smile Foundation that is working to help find a cure for spinal muscular atrophy, the disease that affects his young granddaughter Scarlet. The organization is currently involved in raising money to build a playground in Oakland County for kids of all abilities and disabilities. He is also an accomplished musician who is dedicated to writing and performing country music.

“I’m looking forward to having time to spend with my family, playtime with Scarlet, dinners with my wife Larenne, and a beer on the golf course with my dad – just two old retired guys,” said Clark. “I’ll miss my coworkers, but mostly I’ll miss the viewers. For my 16 years at WXYZ, they are the reason I’ve come in every night. We’ve shared the victories of our community, and mourned the losses, together.”

WXYZ and WMYD will celebrate Clark’s career and his many contributions to broadcasting in the coming months.