September FCC Meeting Reworks Regulatory Timelines, Experiences Technical Difficulties

(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—The FCC conducted its monthly open virtual meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 30, during which they voted on new time frames for a couple broadcast regulations and had some technical difficulties with their live stream. TVT’s sister publication Multichannel News covered the meeting's proceedings.

First on the regulatory side, the commission voted unanimously to take steps to “improve” the foreign ownership review process regarding the FCC’s submission of foreign communications outlet ownership proposals to executive branch agencies for national security reviews. The action was in response to an executive order issued by President Donald Trump, with the FCC setting a 120-day timeframe for initial review with a possible 90-day extension.

The commission also voted to eliminate the requirement for cable operators to give at least 30-days notice ahead of possible retrans blackouts, citing that deals are often reached in that 30-day window. With the new order, the FCC tasks cable operators with needing to only provide notice “as soon as possible.” Democratic commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Geoffrey Starks approved the order, but warned that consumers need to be kept informed as much as possible.

Beyond the actual content of the meeting, there were a number of technical issues that took place. Rosenworcel had a vote delayed during the virtual meeting because her screen froze as Chairman Ajit Pai called for her vote; her vote was officially recorded when she rejoined the call. She cited the demand for broadband at home as the reason for the freeze.

Later, the entire meeting went dark, as viewers were not able to see the commissioners’ live streams, though audio was still available and presented as online captions. The meeting broke for about half an hour to fix the issue.

One other point of note during the meeting, Commissioner Michael O’Rielly made a statement that he is not seeking any continuation of his tenure at the FCC and will conclude his service either with the appointment of a successor or by January, whichever comes first.