The mills of bureaucracy grind slowly, but they do eventually grind.
Last October we reported on changes to the broadcast license renewal application form (Form 303-S) that were in the works. Those changes appear to have passed the first bureaucratic hurdle: having invited public comments (which were due by December 13) and then having waited a decent interval (that would be about two days), the Commission has passed its proposed changes along to the Office of Management and Budget for OMB’s review. Notice of that development has now been published in the Federal Register. This gives everybody yet another opportunity to toss in any comments they might have about the revised form – but this time those comments should be directed to OMB. If you’ve got anything to say to OMB, you’ve got until January 26, 2011 to say it. Once that deadline has come and gone, look for the revised form to be officially released by the Commission, just in time for the next round of renewal applications which are due by June 1.
And along the same lines, the Commission’s efforts to plug a loophole have advanced to OMB. You may recall our post from last November, addressing the question of whether or not digital LPTV, Class A TV and TV translator stations were expected to file Form 317 in December. (Form 317 is the annual “Digital Ancillary/Supplementary Services” report in which digital TV stations tell the Commission whether they’ve aired any subscription-like services on any of their digital streams.) While there were ample indications that the Commission might have intended LPTV, Class A and translator licensees to file – and while some such licensees may already have been filing the reports out of excess of caution – the Commission hadn’t bothered to amend Form 317 to include such stations within its reach. And without a properly revised form, LPTV’s, Class A’s and translators were off the hook.
The Commission figured that out last Fall and started to amend its form, but it was too late to do any good before the December 1 deadline for this year. But next year is a different story. The revised form has now been shipped over to OMB for its once-over. Interested parties have until January 26, 2011 to submit comments to OMB. Given the 11-month headstart, we fully expect that the revised Form 317 will be awaiting all LPTV, Class A and translator licensees come the next deadline in December, 2011.