Rep. Chris Collins, R-Clarence, and David Donovan, president of the New York State Broadcasters Association, will speak at a special luncheon, Monday, May 11, 2014 at the 20th Century Club.  The deadline for reserving your seat is Wednesday, May 6th.  Register here!

Donovan provided an agenda of issues the NYSBA is advancing in the current Congress.  Collins serves on the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee and is likely to address these and other issues. 

Here is a breakdown of some of the agenda items:

Future of FCC Field Offices

The Federal Communications Commission’s proposal to cut the number of regional field offices – including the Buffalo office – from 24 to eight would “gut” the agency’s ability to monitor the country, leaving it “in the dark,” Bob Weller, NAB’s vice president of spectrum policy, wrote in a blog post. The timing couldn’t be worse, given the FCC’s plan to have broadcasters share spectrum, and the overall scenario could lead to “disrupted emergency and AMBER Alerts, unreliable police and fire communications, riskier air travel and a host of other scary possibilities,” Weller wrote.

Sports Blackout Policy

In September, the Federal Communications Commission unanimously repealed its regulations that supported the NFL’s blackout policy. The rules, first adopted in 1975, prohibited cable and satellite TV providers from showing a sports event in an area if the game was blacked out on broadcast television stations.

In March, the NFL suspended its blackout rule for one season.  The blackout rule, which has been in place since 1975, is enacted when a home team fails to sell 85 percent of its non-premium tickets within 72 hours of kickoff. As a result, viewers in the local area don’t receive the game. The league will revisit the issue after the 2015 season.

The Bills who have one of the larger stadiums in the league that is more difficult to sell out than others. The Bills had no blackouts in 2014 and one in 2013, although local blackouts were more frequent in earlier years.

Local Radio Freedom Act and Nadler Bill

Recently, Jerry Nadler (NY-10) introduced H.R. 1733, which would impose a new performance fee on local broadcasters. Broadcasters strongly oppose this legislation and stand ready to work with Congress on a balanced music licensing proposal that promotes innovation and recognizes the benefit of our free, locally-focused platform to artists and listeners

Broadcasters are firmly opposed to a congressionally-mandated performance fee, and have worked with bipartisan leaders in the House and Senate to introduce H.Con.Res 17, the Local Radio Freedom Act, which opposes and new tax, fee or royalty on local radio stations. The resolution currently has 170 cosponsors.  Current NY cosponsors include: Rep. Collins, Rep. Gibson, Rep. Hanna, and Rep. Rangel.

Please support our efforts to promote this bill and opposed a performance tax by thanking your representatives who have cosponsored the legislation, either via social media with the links provided on our Champions page or by reaching out to your representatives directly via email or phone. If your representatives are not supporting this legislation, encourage them to add their names as cosponsors.

Weather Coverage

Federal officials have cited free, local TV as an important communications tool during severe weather, such as this week’s snowstorm in the Northeast. “Broadcasters are an important source of news during emergencies,” a federal advisory said. In related news, radio stations in New England and the Mid-Atlantic region offered extensive coverage of the storm, which in most places was not as severe as forecast.

Spectrum Auction

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently creating rules to conduct voluntary incentive auctions of broadcast spectrum as authorized by Congress in 2012.  NAB has challenged in federal court certain elements of the FCC’s spectrum incentive auction, including its decision to change the methodology used to predict local TV coverage areas and populations served. The FCC’s methodology could result in significant loss of viewership of broadcast TV stations after the FCC “repacks” TV stations into a shrunken TV band, thus leaving some viewers without the TV channels they rely on today.


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