In a Public Notice released this week, the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau provided details regarding the procedures by which video programming distributors (including broadcasters and MVPDs) must report video programmers who refuse to provide widely available closed captioning quality certifications.

The procedures described in the Public Notice are an outgrowth of the closed

The FCC announced in a recent Public Notice that it will extend the deadline for compliance with its new television closed captioning quality rules until March 16, 2015.

Previously scheduled to go into effect on January 15, 2015, the quality rules establish standards for television closed captioning concerning (1) accuracy, (2) synchronicity, (3) completeness, and

In a recent Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), the FCC announced that it is seeking comment on proposals that would require video programmers to file contact information and closed captioning certifications with the FCC.  Specific topics on which the FCC is seeking comment include the following:

  • Whether video programmers should be required to file

The STELA Reauthorization Act (“STELAR”) has been signed into law by the President.  STELAR extends the statutory copyright license for satellite carriage of distant signals for another five years (through December 31, 2019).  It also extends through January 1, 2020 the statutory good faith negotiation requirement imposed on broadcasters and MVPDs for retransmission consent negotiations.  As discussed below, it makes several other changes to the Communications Act and to the Copyright Act.
Continue Reading STELAR (STELA Reauthorization) Enacted

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.


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

The Federal Communications Commission has announced the addition of several new features to its online public inspection file system for TV broadcasters. The new features allow stations to upload documents such as Annual EEO Public File Reports, lists of ownership-related contracts and agreements, and supplemental materials related to applications, authorizations, and EEO investigations.

The FCC’s rules require TV stations to maintain these documents in their public files, but when the online public file system launched on August 2, stations weren’t able to upload these documents. That is because several sections of the online public file system — including the Application, Authorization, Ownership and EEO pages of each station’s file — were designed so that they could only draw documents from the FCC’s electronic CDBS filing system. Previously, there was no way for stations to place any documents in these sections that were not filed through CDBS. 
Continue Reading FCC Updates Online Public File System for TV Broadcasters

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

A federal appeals court this week upheld a preliminary injunction against an online service that streamed live broadcast television programming to subscribers.

ivi, Inc. launched its television-streaming service in September 2010, and by early 2011 it was retransmitting the signals of dozens of TV stations from New York, Seattle, Chicago and Los Angeles.  Broadcasters and other content owners — including ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Univision, PBS, and Major League Baseball — sued ivi for copyright infringement and asked a New York federal district court to order ivi to halt its operations while the suit was pending. ivi argued it was entitled to the compulsory copyright license available to cable systems under federal law.  The district court granted an injunction against ivi’s service in February 2011, and ivi appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

In this week’s decision, the Second Circuit upheld the injunction, finding that ivi was not a cable system and thus was not entitled to a compulsory license. The Second Circuit concluded that the statute’s legislative history and the Copyright Office’s consistent interpretation both showed that Congress intended the compulsory license to apply only to localized retransmission services, not national or global services such as ivi’s.
Continue Reading Appeals Court: TV-Streaming Service Not “Cable System” Under Copyright Act