While we are into the holiday season, that does not stop the routine regulatory obligations for broadcasters. December 1 brings a host of routine obligations for stations in many states. EEO public file reports must be added to the public files of Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. Of course, for TV stations and radio stations that have already converted to the online public file, that will mean uploading those reports to the FCC-hosted public file. For all stations, a link needs to be included on the main page of your station website, if your station has a website, which leads to these reports. Mid-Term EEO Reports on FCC Form 397 must be filed with the FCC by December 1 by radio employment units with 11 or more full-time employees in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota and television employment units with five or more full-time employees in Alabama and Georgia. For more on these Mid-Term Reports, see our article here.
A year from now, on December 1, 2017, all broadcast stations are expected to be required to file Biennial Ownership Reports, including noncommercial stations which now have those reports due on the anniversary date of the filing of their license renewal applications. See our article here on the new obligation that will be effective next year, though appeals of that requirement from some noncommercial groups are pending (see our article here). But, until that rule is effective, non-commercial stations need to continue to file on their renewal anniversary dates. Thus, on December 1 of this year, Noncommercial Television Stations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont and Noncommercial AM and FM Radio Stations in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have the obligation to submit their Biennial Ownership Reports to the FCC.
We also wrote recently, here, about the obligations of TV stations to report on their Ancillary and Supplementary revenues that they receive from non-broadcast use of their digital spectrum. A fee is due if they received revenue from non-broadcast sources. Even stations that did not receive any such revenue must report that fact by December 1 to the FCC.
The TV incentive auction marches on. The FCC has just announced that the current Stage 3 Reverse Auction will end on December 1, with the wireless bidders expected to begin their Forward Auction on Monday, December 5. Watch this bidding to see if we will see an end to this incentive auction this month, or if bidding will continue into next year if the amount bid in this Stage of the Forward Auction does not cover the amounts promised to TV stations in the Reverse Auction plus the FCC’s costs of the auction, plus the cost of the $1.75 billion broadcaster relocation fund to cover the costs of repacking the remaining TV stations into the smaller TV band.
December 1 also is the filing deadline for reconsideration petitions on the FCC’s Quadrennial Review of the multiple ownership rules. We will see if the impending change in Presidential administration and control of the FCC will cause broadcasters and others to seek reconsideration of the FCC’s decision instead of pursuing Court appeals. See our article here for speculation on that point. We will also be watching to see if other news about the new administration’s picks for FCC Chair, and the status of the Democratic FCC Commissioners, become clearer as the month progresses.
As in any month, there are no doubt other regulatory dates of significance to many station’s operations. So don’t be distracted by holiday parties – stay on top of the regulatory obligations that affect you.