On December 23, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) suspended the requirement that biennial ownership reports be filed by January 11, 2010. The FCC also announced that it is temporarily suspending the ability to start a new form in CDBS until it makes changes to the form. The FCC will announce the new filing date, which will be at least 90 days from the date the form is available again in CDBS, in a subsequently released public notice.
As we have mentioned in previous issues of this newsletter, the revised Form 323 requires individuals to register with the FCC to obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN). Following the announcement of this new requirement, several parties expressed concerns that personal privacy could be undermined by requiring individuals to provide personally identifying information (such as an address and Social Security Number) to the FCC in order to obtain an FRN.
In a Public Notice released on December 4, the FCC announced that it will be establishing a mechanism for a temporary "Special Use" FRN that will address those situations in which filers are unable to obtain FRNs from individuals with reportable interests, whether because of concerns about providing Social Security Numbers (SSNs) or otherwise. The "Special Use" FRN is a stopgap measure and can only be used to ensure that the Form 323 is timely filed. Moreover, the Commission has emphatically stressed that it ultimately still "expect[s] all filers to use their best efforts to obtain all SSNs or Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) needed to obtain a fully compliant FRN and to file a complete Form 323." Thus, absent extraordinary circumstances, reporting entities should not rely on "Special Use" FRNs for individuals with reportable interests in a broadcast licensee.