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Scalise Targets Broadcast TV Ecosystem as FCC Eyes KidVid Reforms

- Music Royalties Legislation Advances

A high-ranking Congressional House Republican is touting legislation that would gut the existing broadcast TV ecosystem, the Senate has advanced the Music Modernization Act which addresses some ongoing concerns with streaming royalties, and the FCC is rolling out a proposal to revamp the Children’s Television rules. Each issue will be front and center at the TAB 2018 Show Aug. 1-2 at presentations featuring NAB President/CEO Gordon Smith and multiple DC-based media attorneys.

Smith will keynote the Leadership Breakfast on Aug. 2 to outline the policy challenges broadcasters are facing in the coming months, and to celebrate NAB and TAB’s shared success in defeating a federal Ad Tax, securing an additional $1 billion for the Spectrum Repack Fund and expanding the fund to cover FM Radio, translators and LPTV stations.

Attorneys Scott Flick with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, David Oxenford with Wilkinson Barker Knauer, and Scott Johnson with Fletcher Heald & Hildreth will address regulatory concerns in separate sessions later the same day.

Next Generation Television Marketplace Act
House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Louisiana, told broadcasters last week that he is reintroducing his Next Generation Television Marketplace Act this summer to update current laws and ensure “consistency” in the TV ecosystem.

The bill would repeal broadcast ownership limits along with the underlying framework for the broadcast television business, including must-carry, retransmission consent, network non-duplication and syndication exclusivity. 

Though Scalise has been helpful on other issues important to broadcasters, including opposing a Performance Tax and supporting expansion of the Spectrum Repack fund, NAB and TAB will oppose the measure just as we did when the bill was introduced in 2014.

Action this year is unlikely as Congress faces a tight schedule with key appropriations bills and the Supreme Court nomination pending, ongoing partisan and intra-party fights over immigration policy and a meeting schedule truncated to accommodate mid-term elections. But the bill’s introduction now underscores the fight that lies ahead in January when Congress is slated to take up the five-year renewal of the Satellite TV Act.

Music Royalties
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved the Music Modernization Act which makes significant reforms relating to songwriter compensation by on-demand streaming services, payments to pres-1972 recording artists and producer royalty shares.

The measure already included language relating to the ASCAP-BMI rate courts that NAB negotiated earlier this year, but the committee added – with the NAB’s support – an enhanced oversight role for Congress in any Department of Justice review of the ASCAP and BMI consent decrees.

The new language does not prevent DOJ from undertaking any action relating to the decrees, but it also doesn’t take any heat off the Performance Tax fight. To date, a solid majority of House members have gone on record opposing a Performance Tax – with more co-sponsors from Texas than other state – but record labels continue to press this issue with lawmakers.

The FCC meanwhile continues its deregulatory march under Chairman Ajit Pai with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update the Children’s Television rules. This was an issue TAB raised during a meeting with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr at KPRC-TV Houston last fall.

The only dissenter in that NPRM vote was Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat, who agrees an update is appropriate but disagrees with the Republican majority’s specific proposals in the text.

Flick, TAB’s FCC legal counsel, said that if adopted the changes would significantly reduce the burden on TV stations connected to these rules.  He noted proposals to file KidVid reports annually rather than quarterly, eliminate the requirement that stations increase the amount of children’s KidVid programming by three hours per week for each multicast stream aired, and allow stations to air all of their KidVid programming on multicast channels, rather than on the primary channel, without regard to whether those multicast channels are carried by Pay-TV services.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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