FCC

Equal Employment Opportunity and the FCC

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How would you respond if you opened the mail and found a letter from the EEO asking how well you have complied with their EEO rules?  Brace yourself because 180 stations are getting a letter like that.  In fact, the FCC says they plan to audit five percent of all stations each year.  In other words, if you don’t get the letter this year, you may be part of the five percent next year.

We have discussed this before but since this is coming up in a tangible way, I realize I may have more of your attention.  So, here are the basics as provided by our attorney:

1)    If you have 5 or more full-time employees (defined as working 30 or more hours per week), this applies to you.

2)    You need to have an “outreach program” to notify significant groups when a job opening occurs.  The program needs to cover a wide range of diverse segments of the population.

3)    You need to let the community know of your outreach programs through on-air announcements and other means so that organizations can request to be a part of your outreach program.

4)    You are to educate the public about the duties of broadcast jobs and the necessary qualifications for these positions.  This is to be done even when you do NOT have a job opening.  This can be done in various ways:

A)    Attend job fairs

B)    Conduct internship programs

C)   Speak at community groups or educational institutions about broadcast careers.

D)   Set up in-house training programs on EEO issues.

While our attorney has not seen any fines levied yet for point 4, he sees the FCC as possibly wanting to send a “message” by enforcing this item to make sure we’re taking EEO policies seriously.

Don’t forget your EEO report should be posted on your website.

 

Dan Franks

General Manager, Joy FM

Being FCC Friendly

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Every station is required to serve the public they are licensed to.  This requires special programming that is beneficial to and serves our community’s interests.  At the end of every quarter, we are required to fill out a report that shows we have effectively fulfilled our public issues requirements. Here are some things you can do to fulfill those requirements and things that you may be doing, that really don’t count:

The easiest way to show you are meeting the needs of your community:

  • By doing a half-hour issues oriented program every weekend.  It’s as simple as interviewing your mayor, economic development director, Chamber director or any non-profit organization that is having a positive impact on your community.
  • You can also use any remotes where you are interviewing non-profit organizations that are benefiting the community.  If you were at a Red Cross event to raise funds for families whose homes have been burned down, that would count.

What doesn’t count?

  • Church programs.  This was something that stations used to do all the time on Sunday mornings to fulfill their requirements.  However, it was later ruled that church programs are too limited in terms of fulfilling the needs of the entire community.
  • If you’re airing a one minute “health tip” or “family minute”, that doesn’t count either.  The feeling is that you can’t adequately cover/discuss a topic of local interest in just a minute.  The program needs to be at least ten minutes in length for consideration.

How much time should you devote to public issues every quarter?  You should do at a minimum, 10 hours of issues programming.  If you air a half hour program on Saturday and repeat that program on Sunday morning that would be one hour per week.  Over the course of three months, you will have at least 12 hours of issues-oriented programming. It’s that simple.

Programmers have a hard time breaking format to provide this programming but remember this isn’t a choice you get to make.  It’s a requirement of the FCC.  An hour interruption each week in your typical programming is far less painful than an FCC fine.

One final note on your public issues report: make sure it’s filed no later than the 10th day after the quarter is completed.  This means your report should be in your public file no later than April 10th, July 10th, October 10th and January 10th (for 4th quarter of the prior year).

 

Dan Franks

Joy FM General Manager

Those Beloved Underwriting Rules…

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 There was a song in the early 80’s with the line “it goes on and on and on and on….” The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) recently levied fines for an underwriting announcement that seemed to go ‘on and on and on’ about a roofing company. It stated that they offered “Custom metal roofing, siding, hardware, trim, insulation, trusses and perma felt paper”.

 
Same for a gardening center mentioning they provide “bulk and bag mulch, peat moss, potting soil, bulk top soil, and decorative borders…pick-up and delivery”. They do offer all those services, that’s a fact, but the FCC said, “excessively detailed menus of multiple product/service offerings by underwriters exceed the type of information that would enable listeners to identify supporters of non-commercial programming”.
 
You can mention multiple non-promotional products and services, just don’t go on and on and on and on….about them.
 
Although the Federal Communication Commission didn’t say how many was too much, we would suggest no more than three. If you have more than three, you might consider:
 
• Rotating acknowledgement featuring different items.
• Using a female voice that might deal with more female items
• Using a male voice that might deal more with the “bulk mulch and “decorative borders, potting soil and bag mulch”, top soil, lawn mowers”.
 
Now I could go on and on and on and on…but you can find out more here. Click Here
 

Randy Pierce
Director of Underwriting
Positive Alternative Radio

 

 

 

Where is my radio signal?

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I wanted to take this opportunity to address a few questions that our teams and listeners have concerning radio reception. It’s the age old problem that we hear all the time – “I can’t pick up the radio station.” There are a number of different reasons that this happens and I hope that I can help others to learn some of those reasons and how we can fix those issues.

Each of our radio stations has a studio where our staff operates. However, in most cases, we are broadcasting from a radio tower in a different location. The tower location, transmitter licensed power and signal direction was chosen because of engineering restrictions placed on our radio stations by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Question: Why do I hear other radio stations instead of your radio station on some days?

Answer: One plausible reason is an effect called tropospheric ducting. This is a weather event often caused by cold & warm fronts in your area. These temporary events will cause radio stations from other parts of the United States to be refracted off the tropospheric layer of the atmosphere and into your community. So, instead of hearing your normal radio station, you will hear a radio station on the same frequency from a different area (even the other side of the country). The interference usually goes away within a few hours time but could re-occur in the surrounding days as well.

Fix: This cannot be fixed or alleviated. The only option is to wait for the weather event to finish.

Question: Why can’t my town have a better radio signal?

Answer: This is a quite complex question and one that we often get asked. I mentioned above that the FCC regulates the transmitter site location, power and in which direction you broadcast. This makes our radio stations part of a big puzzle alongside all the other radio stations in the country. Moving a transmitter site, increasing power or changing direction in which you broadcast is like shifting that puzzle around. Any of those changes require that we will not interfere with another radio station that is on our transmitter frequency or near our frequency. The FCC will not allow us to apply for any change that will interfere with another radio station.

Fix: If there is a community that is having troubles with signal reception, please document those issues for station management and engineering team members. Engineering studies can be conducted to determine if any changes can be made to the radio station to allow for better reception.

Question: Why does one radio signal have coverage over 10 miles while another one has 50 miles?

Answer: The FCC grants certain classifications for radio stations. These classifications determine how far the station can be heard. Full-power radio stations can have a listening radius of 25-75 miles dependent on the classification of the radio station. FM translators are licensed to individual communities and are classified to broadcast to a small area such as a 5-10 mile radius.

Fix: Engineering studies can also be conducted to determine if any changes can be made to the radio station to allow for better reception. Please document those issues with station management and engineering team members for further examination.

Question: Why can’t you apply for a new frequency & station in my area?

Answer: The FCC occasionally conducts auctions for individuals and groups to apply for new radio stations. The last auction for non-commercial, FM radio stations was in 2007. You cannot apply for a new non-commercial, FM radio station outside of that window and there are no new auctions at this

Fix: Without an FCC auction, the only real option is to acquire or move an existing radio signal into that area. Please document those issues with station management and engineering team members for

Question: Why can I hear you on my car radio but not inside my home?

Answer: There are many factors as to why this occurs but they all relate to signal reception. The more signal you have, the less static you will receive when listening to the radio station. You will have more signal outside your house or business because the radio signal weakens as it travels through walls. Also, clock radios and small handheld radios have more discrete antennas that will not receive as much signal as a large antenna on your car would. Furthermore, car manufacturers are now placing smaller antennas on cars or using antennas built into the back window of your car which don’t receive as much

Fix: There a few different options out there for radio reception inside your house or business. One option is online web streaming with your PC, mobile device or Internet radio. A desktop Internet radio will receive the radio station through your home/business Internet connection. A second option for better FM reception in your home is to purchase an FM antenna that will interface with your home radio. This will give you a better chance at receiving the station than the small antennas that are located on clock or handheld radios.

 

David Hodges, Director of Engineering

Positive Alternative Radio

 

FCC Spring Cleaning

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It looks like winter is finally behind us so it’s time for some Spring-cleaning.

First off, let’s make sure we’re meeting all of our EEO obligations. Why? Late last year, the FCC issued two separate fines of $20,000 to two different broadcast companies for EEO violations. Specifically, they “had not regularly sent information about job openings to community organizations that asked to be notified about such openings”. Not only that but the FCC wasn’t too happy the stations did not discover this problem, as they should have, through the mandated self-assessment every station employing 5 or more full-time employees is required to do.

In other words, if I asked you now, “what are you doing to meet EEO requirements?” you should not only be able to tell me what you’re doing but how effective those actions are in getting a diverse employment pool. You should also have an EEO report posted to your website for others to review.

Let this current enforcement of EEO policies be a reminder to all of us that the FCC is taking this matter very seriously and so should you!

Another item of Spring-cleaning involves political ads. Your state may be having some primaries soon. Please note we do not have to take any political ads for local/state offices. While we may have to take political spots for federal office, it is our company policy to put a disclaimer behind the ad (which we cannot charge for) that states that we are required by the FCC to run this ad free and do not endorse the candidate, etc.

Please take a moment to do your Spring-cleaning to maintain your station’s legal status.

 

~Dan Franks