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Broadcasting Industry News from the Minnesota Broadcasters Association

Toot Your Own Horn

Minnesotans are renowned for their modesty. We don’t like to brag.  But there are times when we need to sing our own praises. Broadcasters have a rich history of community service, and it’s generally performed without a second thought. Serving local communities is simply what radio and TV stations do every day. It’s just part of the job.

Unfortunately, the story of broadcasting’s significant public service commitment is often lost on those who regulate the industry. With the explosion of audio and video services, radio and TV are sometimes viewed as simply two choices among a myriad of media options. Broadcasters need to capitalize on the unique characteristic that separates them from the rest of the pack—an unparalleled ability to respond to community needs.

That’s why it’s more important than ever before to tell your story to your lawmakers. With performance rights fees, spectrum repacking and advertising expense deductibility issues floating around the halls of Congress, broadcasters need to be heard.  Right now, our industry is being outspent by many of its competitors who have deep pockets to fund their advocacy efforts.  But there’s a tool at every broadcaster’s disposal that costs virtually nothing: social media.

Take time to let your Members of Congress know about the good work your station is doing on an ongoing basis.  Use Twitter and Facebook to promote community service initiatives and news coverage in times of local emergencies. Enlist the support of third party beneficiaries of your community service in this effort. Lawmakers and their staffs do pay attention to social media.  If every broadcaster commits to this initiative, we can effectively reach and influence those who have the power to shape our industry’s future.

Here are the Twitter handles for Minnesota’s congressional delegation (be sure to include the #WeAreBroadcasters):

U.S. House of Representatives

  • Rep. Keith Ellison          @keithellison
  • Rep. Tom Emmer           @RepTomEmmer
  • Rep. Jason Lewis            @RepJasonLewis
  • Rep. Betty McCollum    @BettyMcCollum04
  • Rep. Rick Nolan             @USRepRickNolan
  • Rep. Erik Paulsen           @RepErikPaulsen
  • Rep. Collin Peterson       (not on Twitter at this time)
  • Rep. Tim Walz                @RepTimWalz

U.S. Senate

  • Sen. Al Franken              @alfranken
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar      @amyklobuchar

Also, please share your community service stories with the MBA (@MNBroadcasters) and NAB Public Service (@broadlyserving).

Thank you for showcasing your community service efforts.

Jim du Bois, MBA President/CEO

MBA Members Receive Discount On Conclave Registration

The Conclave is set for July 26th-28th at the Doubletree by Hilton-Park Place in St. Louis Park. MBA members receive a $50 discount on each registration. Register here and enter the code STA42 when prompted.

MBA Provides Reports From The Governor’s Fishing Opener

The MBA is offering stations 3-minute updates from the Governor’s Fishing Opener (GFO) on the mornings of Friday, May 12 and Saturday, May 13. The reports can be downloaded from the gomn.com website via a dedicated link. Updates will be available for download at the following times on 5/12 and 5/13: 6:15 am, 7:15 am, 8:15 am and 9:15 am.  Please complete the form available on the MBA website (password: MBAmember16).

Five ‘Advanced TV’ Takeaways From NAB 2017 Convention

After years of hopeful whispers and crossing of fingers about “advanced” TV, signs of it were everywhere at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) annual convention in Las Vegas last week.

It’s Listeners, Not Labels, Starting To Pick The Singles

Is it an informal case study or part of a legitimate trend? In at least two instances, radio programmers have switched out label-chosen artist singles in favor of album tracks that listeners were actively streaming. Recent fan-chosen singles from Drake and Future “show how even the oldest traditions in popular music are shifting,” suggested Buzzfeed in a story titled “Who Decides What Gets Played On The Radio? More And More, It’s Listeners.”

Marijuana Ads May Yet Be A Pot Of Gold For Radio

There are more places to legally buy and consume marijuana, and now there’s a move afoot in Congress to change the laws to lift the federal prohibition on advertising for pot-related products. But unless that effort is successful, the prospect of radio stations airing commercials for pot seems dimmer than ever under a Trump administration, which has made statements about “greater enforcement” of federal law prohibiting recreational marijuana use.

Young People Spend About Twice As Much Time Watching Netflix As Live TV, And Even More Time On YouTube

Teens watch about twice as much Netflix as live TV, and they watch even more YouTube, according to new research on more than 1,500 US teens by Trendera, commissioned by AwesomenessTV (which produces video for 31 different platforms).

Sponsored Content: Minnesota News, Sports And Weather From The Go News Network

Looking for quick updates with the latest Minnesota news, sports and weather? Contact Joe Nelson by email, Joe@GoMN.com, for more info. Listen to the streaming Go News Network channel right here.

Shifts In Overtime Rules Would Affect Radio Employees

Long hours are a reality in a 24/7 business like radio and that often means employees work beyond the 40-hour workweek that’s standard in a lot of industries. New legislation advancing in Congress would allow companies to give staff members the choice in how they’re compensated for that extra time.

CNN: We Didn’t Run Trump Ad Because Of ‘Fake News’ Graphic

CNN declined to air an ad by President Donald Trump’s campaign because it included a graphic that called the mainstream media “fake news,” the network said Tuesday. Trump’s campaign committee had blasted CNN, saying the network refused to run an ad about the first 100 days of the Trump administration.

Radio Attempts To Make The Most Of Shifting Retail Ad Cash

Traditional brick and mortar stores continue to struggle against the online shopping boom, and rapidly changing consumer buying habits. Radio stations, longtime beneficiaries of retail ad money, treasure the value of the segment. But now, by necessity, they’re working a new charter: turn their marketing prowess toward helping retailers and make up any shortfall elsewhere. Could it be a win-win?

App Time Drives Historic Daily Media Consumption

Thanks in part to increased digital multitasking, Americans will spend more than half their day this year consuming media. In 2017, Americans will spend an average 12 hours seven minutes daily using major media sources, including digital, radio, TV and print, according to a new eMarketer report. And mobile apps drive much of the usage, particularly among smartphone owners.

TOPICS OF INTEREST FOR BROADCASTERS: Summer 2017

By Gregg Skall, MBA FCC Counsel

Womble Carlyle Sandridge Rice, Washington, DC 

FM Translator Window and Interference. In his NAB keynote, Chairman Pai announced that the next window for AM broadcasters to apply for an FM translator should open this summer.  This window will be available only to stations that did not participate in the 250 mile FM translator move-in windows.  Chairman Pai expects the window will open first for Class C AM broadcasters. AM broadcasters seeking to participate in this opportunity should contact a consulting engineer about possible frequencies.  Good planning requires analysis to identify a frequency most likely to limit potential interference as far out as possible, and not merely to the service rate contour of surrounding full power FM station.

Translator Interference Issues: Speaking of surrounding FM stations, the Commission issued a public notice on a rulemaking petition of Aztec Capital Partners, Inc. seeking to limit the ability of full power FM stations to claim interference and primary status over fill-in area translators beyond the 60 dBu protected service contour and for other area translators at any location.  The proposed change in rules could affect FM stations that have reliable service beyond their 60 dBu contour, or that are relied upon by their hometown commuters who travel beyond their FCC calculated contour into larger markets for work.

Main Studio Rule. The Main Studio Rule has been a source of controversy and modification for decades. Critics argue it less relevant today due to increased station consolidation and that it places an unproductive cost burden on smaller owners with a cluster of stations.  Eliminating the rule is one of Chairman Pai’s first initiatives and he has teed it up for the May Commission meeting.  With strong support from both large and small broadcasters and from both Chairman Pai and Commissioner O’Reilly, it is all but certain the Commissioner will adopt an NPRM to eliminate it. It is noteworthy that MMTC has endorsed its elimination. Removing it would be an early win for Chairman Pai’s deregulation initiative and will count as a credit toward any new regulations the Commission adopts under the President’s two-for-one deregulation policy.

TV Incentive Auction Repack. Critical dates for broadcasters begin next Thursday, May 11 with the deadline for filing the FCC Form 1875 with information for payments or reimbursements.  Each reverse auction winning bid station has received a letter with a link to the FCC’s public notice and a Form 1875 with instructions on the disbursement of incentive payments, along with a bank account verification letter or redacted bank statement that confirms ownership of the bank account.  This includes band changing stations.  Be sure to review closely the Commission’s public notice of April 13, 2017, DA17-314, providing all deadlines including details for submitting the Form 1876 for reassigned stations that incur reimbursable costs, and the July 12 deadline for construction permit applications for the new channels and estimates for reimbursement of eligible relocation costs.

TV Repack and FMs. Another significant issue only recently receiving the attention of many radio broadcasters is the effects of the TV repack on FM stations and other types of radio licensees that share a tower with a repack station.  The repack is likely to require changes in tower loading calculations, interim arrangements among other tower tenants while tower crews rearrange antennas or add rigging.  Also critical; the potential imposition of ANSI/TIA-222-G structural requirements on towers built prior to the adoption of the standard.  Towers complications may also be created by TV station transitioning to ATSC 3.0. A tower cotenant FM station may be required to move or cease operation during the tower reloading or construction.  Now is the important time to review your tower lease to for provisions regarding tower tenant priorities between pre-existing and new tenants when a location change is required, or there is a required modification of transmission parameters.  This is particularly important in that repack consequences on tower cotenants may only be eligible for reimbursement if legally required by the terms of the tower lease or other binding contractual commitment. For a more detailed discussion, see my article “2017-Year of the Towers” in the March-April 2017 Radio Guide.

EEO – Internet Only Outreach. In March, the FCC released a Declaratory Order, effectively immediately, allowing EEO Prong 1 Broad Outreach to be accomplished solely over the internet.  This is a significant revision of its former 2002 policy that internet outreach alone was inadequate. The Commission declared that internet usage is now sufficiently widespread that broadcasters may use the internet as a sole recruitment source to meet the “wide dissemination” requirement of its rules.  Note: “wide” dissemination is still necessary and may be achieved through use of many internet sites, or only one, provided that one site can be demonstrated to be widely available and used by many job seekers.  Also important: the internet resources used must achieve wide dissemination within the station’s local community.

AM Revitalization. Chairman Pai has indicated his interest in moving forward with additional topics left unresolved by the first AM Revitalization Report and Order.  Two principle items are the protection for Class A, clear-channel AM stations, and possible conversion of AM station to all-digital.  Although an alliance of clear-channel stations has vehemently opposed a revision of nighttime skywave protection, this policy is deemed by many to be overdue for reconsideration.  Given the number of stations and listening choices now available, it is hard to point to any individual who relies upon nighttime skywave radio service.  The FCC proposed to change daytime protection contour for Class B, C and D stations from 0.5 mVm to 2.0 mVm.  The upward revision will help overcome modern day noise and man-made interference levels.  An older proposal would limit Class A nighttime protected interference to their daytime 0.5 mVm contour.  Others have argued a more realistic and scientifically valid protection standard would calculate actual nighttime interference levels instead using the contour overlap avoidance method, which assumes that a station receives no interference at all within their 0.5 mVm 50% skywave contour.

Global Media Rights. The battle between radio broadcasters and new music performance rights organizations (“PROs”) continues and will likely heat up by the end of the year.  At the NAB, there was discussion that even more new music performance rights organizations may appear on the scene sometime soon. This is a major battle for radio broadcasters and for all broadcasters, radio and television, and will continue to occupy center stage for some time.

This column is provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

Access Minnesota

The MBA can help you with your community issues programming. Access Minnesota is a high-quality, weekly 30-minute public affairs radio show that focuses on issues of importance to Minnesotans.  This program is available as a free service to MBA member stations. The show currently airs on 43 stations throughout Minnesota. Visit www.accessminnesotaonline.com for more information. (Please note that the Access Minnesota website is currently being redesigned.)  A monthly 30-minute TV version of Access Minnesota is also available.  You can view previous episodes here. 

Please contact Linda Lasere (llasere@minnesotabroadcasters.com) if you wish to air Access Minnesota.

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