On December 18, join Kelley Drye and the FCBA Enforcement Committee for a discussion with FCC leaders about the Enforcement Bureau’s approach to handling confidentiality requests for information provided during investigations as well as potential confidentiality issues arising in ex parte and FOIA matters. Brad and the panelists will discuss the requirements for confidentiality requests
FCBA CLE: “9-1-1 Reliability Rules, Outage Reporting, and Hot Topics”
Join Kelley Drye and the FCBA’s Enforcement and Homeland Security and Emergency Communications Committees for a virtual CLE on Monday, April 27 from 12:15 – 2:25 p.m. The two-part CLE will focus on the FCC’s 9-1-1 reliability and network outage reporting rules, what to do when faced with an FCC investigation, how to successfully negotiate…
Net Neutrality Showdown Scheduled for February 1st
In an event sure to garner significant attention from tech, consumer protection, and government stakeholders, oral argument on the consolidated appeals of the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order (“Order”) will take place on February 1, 2019, at the D.C. Circuit. As we previously discussed, the Order largely reversed the FCC’s own 2015 rulemaking to reclassify broadband internet access services (“BIAS”) as telecommunications services subject to a host of Title II common carrier obligations. The Order re-reclassified BIAS as information services subject to “light-touch” Title I regulations, while retaining pared-down transparency requirements on BIAS providers. The challengers allege that the FCC failed to adequately explain its changed regulatory approach, relied on faulty data, and ignored consumer complaints when issuing the Order. The oral argument will provide our first indication of which way the D.C. Circuit, which handled the last three appeals of FCC net neutrality rules with varied results, may go in this latest challenge.
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Marriott Pays Half Million to Resolve Unauthorized FCC License Transfer Investigation
On August 28, 2018, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau announced a Consent Decree with Marriott International, Inc. (“Marriott”) to resolve an investigation into unauthorized transfers of wireless radio licenses in connection with Marriott’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. (“Starwood”). The civil payment levied against Marriott and the other conditions set forth in the Consent Decree serve as a reminder to companies that may not normally be subject to the FCC’s jurisdiction to thoroughly review the regulatory implications of mergers, acquisitions, or other corporate transactions as part of any due diligence conducted before a deal is reached.
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FCC Streamlines Formal Complaint Procedures and Establishes Shot Clock for Decisions
In a move affecting nearly every type of dispute brought to the agency, the FCC adopted a Report and Order (“Order”) at its July meeting establishing a streamlined set of formal complaint rules. The new rules cover complaints against common carriers, pole attachment complaints, and complaints involving accessibility for people with disabilities. The revised procedures impose a uniform deadline for answering complaints, eliminate a number of procedural requirements, expand the discovery process, and establish a “shot clock” for FCC decisions. The reforms aim to lower the overall burden on complainants, potentially opening the door to the resolution of more disputes with the FCC instead of in court or elsewhere.
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AT&T Pays $5.25 Million and Agrees to Significant FCC Oversight to Resolve 911 Outage Investigations
On June 28, 2018, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau announced a Consent Decree with AT&T Mobility, LLC (“AT&T”) to resolve investigations into two 911 service outages in 2017. The outages lasted for more than five hours and resulted in approximately 15,000 failed calls. The settlement was somewhat unexpected because more than a year had passed since the FCC issued its report on the outages, which did not indicate that enforcement action was coming. The penalty levied against AT&T underscores that improving the nation’s 911 capabilities continues to be a top priority for the FCC and that outages will be met with significant fines.
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Commissioner O’Rielly Again Targets Pirate Broadcasters and Their Supporters to Walk the Enforcement Plank
Commissioner Michael O’Reilly called for stronger enforcement action to combat unauthorized “pirate” radio broadcasters in a statement before the Communications and Technology Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on July 25, 2017. The Commissioner’s recommendations came during the Subcommittee’s hearing on draft legislation to reauthorize the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”). While the reauthorization bill does not focus on pirate enforcement and the issue normally is seen as non-controversial, it is a longstanding priority for the Commissioner. In his statement, Commissioner O’Rielly not only advocated for increased fines against pirates, but also penalties against third parties that support pirates, such as building owners housing pirate stations or pirate station advertisers. While it remains unlikely that the recommendations will result in near-term legislative action, Commissioner O’Rielly’s statement sends a clear message that pirate broadcasters and their supporters remain in his enforcement crosshairs.
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