September is one of those unusual months, where there are no regular filing dates for EEO public inspection file reports, quarterly issues programs lists or children’s television reports. With the unusual start to the month with Labor Day being so late, and the lack of routine deadlines, we didn’t get our usual monthly highlights of upcoming regulatory dates posted as the month began. While we didn’t do it early, we actually have not missed the many regulatory deadlines and important dates about which broadcasters need to take note this month.
Several are of particular importance for virtually all broadcasters. As we wrote here and here, Annual Regulatory Fees for all commercial broadcasters are due by September 27. Any commercial broadcaster that cumulatively owes more than $500 must file its fees by that date – and the fee filing system is already open. Note that most noncommercial entities are excused from fee filings.
The day after reg fees are submitted, September 28, will also be the day that the FCC will conduct its second Nationwide Test of the EAS system. This is the first that will use not only the over-the-air “daisy chain” system of transmitting alerts by passing them though over-the-air station-to-station transmissions, but also will test the Internet-based CAPS system that was implemented several years ago (see our article here). Stations should have registered last month in the FCC’s new ETRS database (see our article here) so that they can report on the success of the test the day after it is conducted. Stations have until September 26 to edit or correct information initially posted in that system so that it will be ready to go for reporting on the results of the September 28 test. Also, by the end of July, stations should have updated the alert codes in their EAS boxes to recognize the new code for a nationwide EAS alert (see our article here). Check to make sure that your stations have done that update to be ready for this month’s test.
Of course, as we wrote this past week, commercial broadcast stations should also be offering lowest unit rates (or “lowest unit charges”) to political candidates, as we are in the 60-day window before the November election. Remember to be offering candidates the lowest rate for any class of time sold on the station – giving those candidates the benefit of all volume discounts even if they don’t buy in volume, and giving them the benefit of all other sales practices that you give to your most favored commercial advertiser.
We also wrote last week about the upcoming FCC open meeting, where the Commission will consider issues dealing with set-top boxes, ways to promote independent video programming, and relaxing the rules governing the foreign ownership of broadcast stations. The FCC meeting considering these issues will be held on September 29.
On Tuesday, September 13, Stage 2 of the television incentive auction will begin. As we wrote here, the FCC is now trying to clear 114 MHz of television spectrum to repurpose it for wireless uses. TV stations participating in the auction need to pay careful attention to the procedures for this second stage of the auction as set out in the FCC’s Public Notice summarized in our post from the week before last.
These, of course, are but the highlights of the deadlines that face broadcasters this month. Be sure to stay on top of these deadlines, and any others that may affect your station, to avoid regulatory issues from the FCC and other government agencies.