This Week in Regulation For Broadcasters
By: David Oxenford,
Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week (April 2-8), with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.
- Broadcast operations that use uninterruptable power supply (UPS) devices as either a primary or backup power source should be alert for possible cybersecurity threats and review the federal government’s guidance on Mitigating Attacks Against Uninterruptible Power Supply Devices. The federal Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Department of Energy are aware of threats to a variety of internet-connected UPS devices, often through unchanged default usernames and passwords. Companies should immediately ensure their UPS and similar systems are either not accessible from the internet or, if these systems are accessible, companies should use other controls including having them behind a VPN, using multifactor authentication, and adopting strong passwords. For more information, contact [email protected]. (Public Notice)
- The FCC Media Bureau rejected a complaint by a purported congressional write-in candidate that two Cincinnati radio stations violated federal law by censoring his advertisements and not providing him reasonable access. After initially accepting and airing his ads, the stations went back to the candidate for more evidence that his candidacy was substantial and, being provided insufficient evidence, the stations pulled the ads. Write-in candidates must make a substantial showing of a serious candidacy to be eligible to receive the benefits and protections of the FCC’s rules. The Bureau noted that, except for maintaining a website, appearing in one Internet interview, and establishing a campaign headquarters, the complainant engaged in no other significant campaign activities in the district in which he was purportedly a candidate. Thus, the Bureau found that he had not established that his campaign was bona fide, so the stations were justified in denying him further access. (Order)
- The licensee of a Chicago FM translator will pay $9,000 to settle an investigation that found rule violations including that the translator was, for extended periods of time, broadcasting when its primary station was off the air, carrying the primary station’s internet-only feed. Under FCC rules, a translator should generally not be operating when its primary station is off the air (unless the translator is rebroadcasting an AM daytimer, when it can rebroadcast at night only if the primary station has been on the air in the last 24 hours). The investigation also found that the licensee (1) did not notify the FCC or ask permission for special temporary authority when the translator was silent for almost a year (under the rules, notification is to be made in 10 days and an STA requested if the station will be silent for 30 days), and (2) was not fully truthful and accurate in its FCC correspondence. (Order)
- As we noted in last week’s update, the House of Representatives approved the MORE Act, which, if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. But, as we wrote on the Broadcast Law Blog, broadcasters as federal licensees should still steer clear of marijuana advertising unless and until the bill becomes law, even if marijuana has been legalized in the state in which they operate as, until then, it remains a felony under federal law. (Broadcast Law Blog)
- After recent maintenance, the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) is back online and has received some upgrades. As a first step in a series of upgrades, ECFS is now cloud-based, which the FCC says will make the platform more agile and scalable. A reCAPTCHA function has been added to reduce spam filings. (News Release)
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.