The German Federal States are likely to adopt a new law in 2020, known as the Interstate Media Treaty (Medienstaatsvertrag – “MStV”). The MStV will impose new regulations on firms or technologies that serve as intermediaries to online media services. It will also introduce new rules in other areas, e.g., for online content providers and advertising, but the rules for intermediaries are likely to generate the most interest.

After intense debate and two public consultations, which prompted over 1,200 comments, the prime ministers of the German Federal States agreed on a draft of the new law on December 5, 2019. Because the law also implements certain provisions of the latest revision of the EU Audiovisual Media Directive, which Member States must implement by September 2020, it is expected that the Federal State parliaments will adopt the MStV in the first half of this year. Germany notified the MStV to the EU under Directive 2015/1535 in January, and the European Commission is currently reviewing it.
Continue Reading Germany Likely to Adopt Unique Regulatory Regime for Intermediaries to Media Services

The FCC Media Bureau’s designated May 29, 2015 “Pre-Auction Licensing Deadline” is rapidly approaching.  Full power and Class A facilities must be licensed by this deadline in order to be eligible for protection in the repacking process that will be part of the television incentive auction. For these purposes, facilities subject to a pending application

Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice (“PN”), following up on its July Public Notice, concerning the software to be used during the Incentive Auction to determine whether the acceptance of each bid from a broadcaster will result in a feasible, and optimal, repacking process.
Continue Reading SpectrumWatch: FCC Releases Information Related to Repacking Process

The Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit found that the retransmission consent agreement between Nexstar Broadcasting Inc. and Time Warner Cable, Inc. allows Time Warner to rebroadcast the signals of three television stations owned by Nexstar without any geographic restriction across its entire system.  Rejecting Nexstar’s request for an injunction to stop Time Warner from retransmitting certain Nexstar broadcasts to distant markets, the Court of Appeals found that the agreement between the companies likely allows Time Warner to do so.  The Court of Appeals thus upheld the District Court’s decision to deny an injunction sought by Nexstar.
Continue Reading Appeals Court Finds that Retransmission Consent Agreement Allows Time Warner to Rebroadcast Nexstar Signals Across Entire System

New rules adopted by the FCC require that when television stations in the U.S. display emergency information visually during non-news programming, they must provide the same information aurally on a secondary audio stream. The new rules do not change the requirement that emergency information provided visually during newscasts be conveyed aurally on primary audio.


A federal appeals court will rehear a case in which a split three-judge panel ruled it was unconstitutional to prohibit non-commercial broadcast stations from selling political advertisements.

A federal statute, 47 U.S.C. § 399b, generally prohibits public broadcasters from airing “advertisements,” which the statute defines to include paid messages that (1) promote a for-profit entity’s

The California court that is hearing Fox’s challenge concerning DISH’s Hopper set-top-boxes and related AutoHop feature has issued a decision denying Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction.  The Hopper can be used to automatically record primetime programming from the four major broadcast television networks, and the AutoHop feature allows viewers to automatically skip the commercials

As we reported previously, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Matter of Expanding the Economic and Innovation Opportunities of Spectrum Through Incentive Auctions (“NPRM”), along with an accompanying paper by auction specialists Auctionomics and Power Auctions.

In this post, we describe the proposed rules for the incentive auction and the “repacking” of broadcast spectrum. The incentive auction is made up of three parts: (1) a reverse auction, in which broadcasters may bid to sell spectrum rights; (2) a forward auction, in which mobile carriers may bid to purchase spectrum rights; and (3) a repacking process, in which the FCC will reconfigure broadcast television allotments to take up a smaller portion of the UHF band ― thereby maximizing the amount of spectrum that could be made available in the forward auction.

As the NPRM explains, all three of these pieces are interdependent.  “[T]he amount of spectrum available in the forward auction will depend on reverse auction bids and repacking, winning reverse auction bidders will be paid from the forward auction proceeds, and our repacking methodology will help to determine which reverse auction bids we accept and what channels we assign the broadcast stations that remain on the air.  For the incentive auction to succeed, all three pieces must work together.”Continue Reading Spectrum Watch: A Closer Look at the FCC’s Proposed Rules for First-Ever Incentive Auction and Repacking of Broadcast Spectrum

On Friday, a coalition of national broadcast networks, radio and television station licensees, and community and consumer organizations filed a letter asking the Federal Communications Commission to clarify that it will no longer employ a presumptive ban on foreign investment above 25% in the parent companies of broadcast licensees.  The Coalition for Broadcast Investment (the “Coalition”), which includes CBS, Disney, and such public interest organizations as the Minority & Media Telecommunications Council and the Latinos in Information Science and Technology Association, asked the FCC instead to consider on a case-by-case basis whether such a transaction is consistent with the public interest.  The filing was reported on by Politico (subscription required), Multichannel News, and TVNewsCheck, among others.

The FCC has historically exercised its discretion to consider, and in many instances to allow, indirect foreign investment above the statutory benchmark in wireless common carriers, which are governed by the same statute.  At the same time, the Commission has employed an irrebuttable presumption against equivalent investment in the broadcast context.  The Coalition argues that this policy is inequitable, particularly when the FCC has liberalized foreign investment policies toward common carriers ― urging that broadcasters have the same ability to seek capital from foreign investment as other industry participants already have under the law. 
Continue Reading Broadcasters, Public Interest Groups Urge FCC to Consider Increased Foreign Investment

The Federal Communications Commission’s new online system for hosting television broadcasters’ public inspection files has now been live for two full weeks. The system officially launched August 2, which means stations are required to upload most categories of public file documents created from that day forward and to finish uploading most older public-file documents by February 2, 2013. 

This does not include letters and e-mails from the public, which stations will not upload but instead will continue to make available at their main studios. 

Most stations also do yet need to use the online political file. Only stations that are both (1) affiliated with ABC, CBS, NBC, or Fox, and (2) located in one of the top 50 DMAs were required to start using the online political file for documents created on or after August 2. Those stations will not have to upload any documents created before August 2, even if the documents relate to ads that run later.  Instead, older political-file documents will remain available at the stations’ main studios. Stations that have switched to the online political file need to keep a backup copy of the political-file documents they have uploaded. (Stations are not required to keep backup copies of non-political documents that have been uploaded.)

Other stations may keep their political files in their existing format until July 1, 2014. Those stations are allowed to switch to the online political file earlier, but the FCC staff has requested that stations hold off on making such voluntary switches for the first few weeks of the system’s operation.

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Continue Reading TV Broadcaster Online Public Inspection File: Two Weeks In