With regulatory fees behind us, October brings a number of the routine quarterly regulatory filing dates. October 10 for all broadcast stations, commercial and noncommercial, is the date by which your Quarterly Issues Programs lists, setting out the most important issues that faced your community in the last quarter and the programs that you broadcast to address those issues, need to be placed in the physical public inspection file of radio stations, and the online public file of TV broadcasters. As missing and incomplete Quarterly lists have led to more fines in the recent license renewal violation than any other matter, and as the FCC staffers have been reviewing some of the TV station lists that are now posted in the online public inspection files of station, completing these forms on a timely basis remains very important.
Full power TV and Class A TV stations by October 10 also need to have filed with the FCC their FCC Form 398 Children’s Television Reports, addressing the educational and informational programming directed to children that they broadcast. Also, by that same date, they need to upload to their online public files records showing compliance with the limits on commercials during programming directed to children. Children’s television reports have trailed right behind the Quarterly Issues Programs lists as the source of fines at license renewal time – so be sure that these are completed and filed on a timely basis as well.
As we are still continuing in the TV renewal cycle, there are stations in a number of states that should be running either post-filing renewal announcements or pre-filing announcements for stations with December filing deadlines. Annual EEO Public Inspection file reports should have been completed and placed in their public file (and been posted online for all stations with websites) by broadcasters with 5 or more full-time employees in their employment units by stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands. Noncommercial Television Stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands; Noncommercial AM and FM Radio Stations in Iowa and Missouri should have filed with the FCC and placed in their public file, by October 1, biennial ownership reports. For more specifics on these deadlines and which states are involved, check out our Broadcasters Regulatory Calendar here.
There is also a new form for full-power TV broadcasters filing construction permits applications for changes in their facilities, effective as of October 2. That is the Form 2100, which is apparently a prototype for the form that will eventually be used for all broadcast applications and the switch to a new broadcast database. The FCC announcement of the need to use this new form is here.
There are also a few comment deadlines in proceedings directly involving broadcasters during the month. We recently wrote about the Media Bureau’s release of a proposed form to be completed by television broadcasters to obtain government reimbursement for any fees spent changing a television channel as a result of the repacking of the television spectrum due to the incentive auction. Comments on that form are due on October 29.
Comments on the further rulemaking on the captioning of video clips that are posted online are also due this month – on Monday, October 6. We wrote about the issues raised in that proceeding here.
As is the case every month, there will no doubt be new regulatory issues that arise in October. We expect more actions in the incentive auction proceeding. One of those items is on the agenda for the October 17 FCC meeting. That is the possible suspension of the LPTV digital construction deadlines given the upcoming incentive auction. The FCC may not want to force LPTV stations to spend money on a digital conversion only to have their spectrum pulled out from under them a short time later as part of the digital repacking.
So watch for these and other FCC actions affecting broadcasters this month and be prepared!