Readers will recall that, last spring, the Commission decided that certain TV joint sales agreements (JSAs) may create attributable interests for the purposes of determining compliance with the multiple ownership rules. And, thanks to that change, JSAs that do create such interests have to be filed with the Commission. That applies any arrangement – new and old – that authorizes one TV station in a market to sell 15% or more of the advertising time of another station in the same market.
But as we reported back then, the requirement to file JSAs didn’t kick in when the rest of the revised JSA rules did. That’s because the filing provision constitutes an “information collection” that has to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget (thanks to the hilariously-named Paperwork Reduction Act) before that provision can take effect. In May we speculated that it would likely take about four-six months to wrap up that review process.
And sure enough, just like clockwork, OMB gave the FCC the official thumbs up on October 17 – according to a notice in the Federal Register.
With the publication of that notice, the filing requirement has become effective as of October 28, 2014. According to the FCC’s Report and Order (R&O), that means that copies of all existing TV JSAs that create attributable interests will have to be filed with the FCC within 30 days, i.e., by November 28 (which is technically 31 days, since November 27 is Thanksgiving).. Note, though, that the R&O also indicates that the Media Bureau will be issuing its own public notice alerting one and all to the deadline. We’ll keep an eye out for that notice and let you know when it hits the streets.
While it’s at least conceivable that the Bureau’s notice might specify some date other than November 28, we can be reasonably confident that the filing deadline will not be long after that in any event. Accordingly, if you’re a party to a JSA that, under the attribution rules adopted last April, creates an attributable interest, you should be getting a copy of that JSA ready to ship off to the Commission in the next month or so.
[Blogmeister’s Update: As predicted, the Media Bureau has issued a separate public notice confirming that November 28 is the deadline for filing with the Commission copies of JSAs that give rise to attributable interests. The Bureau’s notice also helpful reminds commercial TV licensees that, separate and apart from the new filing obligation, copies of ALL JSAs – regardless of whether they create attributable interests – must be placed in the online public inspection files of both stations involved in the JSA.]
Note, though, that the deadline for filing these JSAs with the FCC does not affect the previously announced June 19, 2016 deadline for unwinding any JSAs that create impermissible ownership combinations. While parties to such agreements will need to file copies with the Commission by the new deadline (presumably November 28, although we’re waiting for the Bureau to make that official), the agreements may remain in place until June 19, 2016.