March is one of those few months on the FCC’s regulatory calendar where there are few routine filing deadlines. While stations that filed their renewal applications in February need to continue to run their post-filing announcements, and those that are going to file renewals in April (the end of the renewal cycle for radio stations) should be running their pre-filing announcements, the month is otherwise a quiet one. There are no regularly-scheduled renewal filing deadlines, no deadlines for annual EEO or ownership reports, and no quarterly issues programs lists or children’s television reports. All of those deadlines return with a vengeance in early April. To help keep track on those dates applicable to stations in your area, we prepared a Broadcasters Regulatory Calendar, available here, that tracks many routine FCC filing deadlines, as well as other deadlines of importance to broadcasters throughout the remainder of 2014 – including lowest unit rate windows for the political broadcasting season, dates for submission of SoundExchange royalties, and some of the other regularly recurring deadlines for broadcasters .
There are some comment dates in FCC proceedings of interest to broadcasters that fall later this month. We recently wrote about the extension of the reply comment deadline for the proceeding to look at Revitalizing the AM Band (see our summary of the issues raised in that proceeding hereand here). Those Reply Comments are due on March 20. On that same date, Reply Comments are due in an FCC proceeding to Accessibility of User Interfaces and Video Programming Guides. The next week, on March 25, Reply Comments are due in the proceeding looking to change the FCC’s Sports Blackout Rules. And for those stations lucky enough to be selected for the FCC’s latest random EEO audit, the responses are due on March 31 (see our article here).
On the minds of many is another March date – March 31, when the FCC will hold their open meeting at which they will look at Joint Sales Agreements and Shared Services Agreements (see our articles on that topic here and here), and potentially resolve other issues in the Quadrennial Review of the FCC’s Multiple Ownership rules. That may well be a contentious meeting, with FCC Commissioner Pai yesterday releasing an unusual press release talking about how such agreements can be in the public interest and urging his colleagues to make a reasoned decision in that proceeding, rather than one based on unfounded conclusions. No doubt, it will be a meeting worth watching.
Then get ready for April, when there are license renewals for radio and TV stations in certain states, deadlines for Quarterly Issues Programs lists for all stations and Children’s Television Reports for TV stations, as well as various other deadlines to which you should be alert. Check out our Broadcasters Calendar for some of those dates.