Items of Note in 2017
- Prohibition on Certain Communications: As of the date of this publication, all full-power and Class A television licensees that were eligible to participate in the reverse auction remain subject to the FCC’s rules prohibiting communications about bids and bidding strategies in the Broadcast Incentive Auction. This “quiet period” will continue until the FCC declares the Auction is over and announces the results.
- Online Public Inspection File for TV and “First Wave” Radio Stations: On January 29, 2016, the FCC extended the online public inspection file rules that were previously applicable only to broadcast television stations to broadcast radio stations. Effective as of June 24, 2016, radio stations located in the top-50 Nielsen Audio markets with five or more full-time employees (“First Wave Radio Stations”) must upload all public file materials (with the exception of letters and emails from the public) on a going-forward basis to the FCC-hosted online file. Effective as of December 24, 2016, First Wave Radio Stations must have uploaded all existing public file documents—with the exception of letters and emails from the public, and political file materials from before June 24, 2016—to the online file. For First Wave Radio Stations and all full-power and Class A TV stations, references herein to the public inspection file refer to the station’s online public inspection file. The FCC’s online public file requirements will take effect for all other radio stations in 2018. The FCC has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking considering the elimination of the requirement to maintain letters and email from the public, which stations must currently maintain in their local public inspection files. That proceeding remains pending at this time.
- Noncommercial Biennial Ownership Report on Form 323-E: On January 8, 2016, the FCC adopted changes to the commercial and noncommercial ownership report forms and established a single national filing deadline for all noncommercial radio and television broadcast stations like the one that the FCC previously designated for all commercial radio and television stations. However, until the Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) approves the new forms (FCC Form 2100, Schedule 323-E), noncommercial radio and television stations should continue to file their biennial ownership reports every two years by the anniversary date of the station’s license renewal application filing deadline. OMB approval remains pending as of the date of this publication.
- Broadcast Annual Employment Report on FCC Form 395-B: The FCC suspended use of this form in 2001 in connection with the revision of its EEO Rule. In 2004, the FCC announced that it would resume use of the form and would advise the broadcast industry of the due date for the first filing of the reinstated form. As of the date of this publication, no such announcement has been made. Broadcasters should be alert to a future announcement regarding the possible reinstatement of this filing requirement. While the Form 395-B is currently suspended, other important EEO outreach and reporting obligations remain in effect, and their 2017 deadline dates are noted in this Calendar.
- Applications for Renewal of License: The three-year long license renewal cycle for broadcast stations in television services (television, Class A, LPTV, TV Translator), which began on June 1, 2012, ended in 2015 and will not begin again until June 1, 2020. The renewal cycle for radio services (AM, FM, FM Translator, LPFM), which ended in 2014, will not begin again until June 1, 2019.
The following deadlines are based on information known by us as of the date hereof. These deadlines may or may not apply to any particular broadcaster. These deadlines are provided for general informational purposes only and should be double-checked for currency close to each pertinent date/deadline. Actions by the FCC, Congress, or the courts could affect any of these deadlines by, for example, eliminating a particular reporting/filing obligation altogether or modifying the form used, content, deadline, fee, or manner of reporting/filing. It should also be noted that, as a general rule, when a deadline for filing a document with the FCC falls on a weekend or a federal holiday, the filing deadline will shift to the next business day. The listing of deadlines below is not intended to be complete or exhaustive of all regulatory and non-regulatory deadlines that may apply to a given broadcaster year-to-year. Accordingly, broadcasters should seek the advice of communications counsel in each instance to assure timely and proper filing. This edition of our annual "Broadcasters' Calendar" supersedes all prior editions and accordingly any prior editions should no longer be used.
Closed Captioning of Internet Video Clips—Beginning on this date, Internet video clips that contain montages or compilations made from clips of video content must be captioned if the associated programming was shown on television in the United States with captions.
Quarterly Issues/Programs List Required—All full-power radio, full-power television, and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date the Quarterly Issues/Programs List covering the period October 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
Certification of Children's Commercial Time Limitations Required—Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date records "sufficient to verify compliance" with the FCC's commercial time limitations in children's programming broadcast during the period October 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016.
FCC Form 398 Children's Programming Report Due—Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must by this date electronically file FCC Form 398 demonstrating their responsiveness to "the educational and informational needs of children" for the period October 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016, and ensure a copy of the form as filed with the FCC is in the station's public inspection file.
Class A Television Continuing Eligibility Certification—Class A television stations are required to maintain documentation in their public inspection files sufficient to demonstrate continuing compliance with the FCC's Class A eligibility requirements. We recommend that by this date Class A television stations generate such documentation for the period October 1, 2016 through December 31, 2016 and place it in their public inspection files.