There are a number of upcoming FCC filing deadlines over the next three months that are relevant to broadcasters. You should review these carefully, as some are only applicable to certain licensees while others (the EEO-related and noncommercial ownership reports) are state-specific.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
November 14, 2016:
EAS National Test – Participants’ ETRS Form Three Due: All EAS participants must prepare and file in the EAS Test Reporting System (ETRS) a Form Three for each station by 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on November 14. This form provides information as to results of the September 28 EAS national test. If a station successfully received and passed on the test, it must report from which source it first received the test, when it passed on the alert, and other details of what was received. If the station did not receive the test properly, it is asked to explain any known reasons for the failure. The Commission has stated that its goal is to figure out how to make the system work, not to punish stations for any failures.
December 1, 2016:
DTV Ancillary Services Statements: All DTV licensees and permittees must file an Ancillary/Supplementary Services Report in the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (LMS) stating whether they have offered any ancillary or supplementary services together with their broadcast services during the previous fiscal year (October 1, 2015 through September 30, 2016). Please note that the group required to file includes both full-power TV stations and Class A TV, LPTV, and TV translator stations that are offering digital broadcasts. If a station has offered such services, and has charged a fee for them, then it must separately submit a payment equal to five percent of the gross revenues received and an FCC Remittance Advice (Form 159) to the Commission. The report specifically asks for a list of any ancillary services, whether a fee was charged, and the gross amount of revenue derived from those services. Ancillary services do not include broadcasts on multicast channels of free, over-the-air programming for reception by the public.
EEO Public File Reports: All radio and television stations with five (5) or more full-time employees located in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont must place EEO Public File Reports in their public inspection files. TV stations must upload the reports to the online public file. Radio stations in the top 50 markets and in an employment unit with five or more employees will have to place these reports in the new online public inspection file; all other radio stations may continue to place hard copies in the paper public file for the time being. For all stations with websites, the report must be posted there as well. Per announced FCC policy, the reporting period may end ten days before the report is due, and the reporting period for the next year will begin on the following day.
EEO Mid-Term Reports: All radio stations with eleven or more full-time employees in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, or South Dakota and all television stations with five or more full-time employees in Alabama or Georgia must electronically file a mid-term EEO report on FCC Form 397, with the last two EEO public file reports attached.
Noncommercial Television Ownership Reports: All noncommercial television stations located in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont must file a biennial Ownership Report (FCC Form 323-E). All reports must be filed electronically.
Noncommercial Radio Ownership Reports: All noncommercial radio stations located in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, or South Dakota must file a biennial Ownership Report. All reports filed must be filed electronically on FCC Form 323-E.
December 27, 2016:
Promoting Diverse and Independent Programming: Comments are due regarding the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making with regard to proposed steps to promote the distribution of independent and diverse video programming to consumers. The comment deadline initially announced was December 24, 2016, but the Commission apparently realized that this date was not only Christmas Eve, but a Saturday, and silently made the correction before the notice appeared in the Daily Digest.
January 10, 2017:
Children’s Television Programming Reports: For all commercial television and Class A television stations, the fourth quarter 2016 children’s television programming reports must be filed electronically with the Commission. These reports then should be automatically included in the online public inspection file, but we would recommend checking, as the FCC bases its initial judgments of filing compliance on the contents and dates shown in the online public file. Please note that, as was the case the last couple of quarters, use of the Licensing and Management System for the children’s reports is mandatory, and this system requires the use of the licensee FRN to log in; therefore, you should have that information at hand before you start the process.
Commercial Compliance Certifications: For all commercial television and Class A television stations, a certification of compliance with the limits on commercials during programming for children ages 12 and under, or other evidence to substantiate compliance with those limits, must be uploaded to the online public inspection file.
Website Compliance Information: Television and Class A television station licensees must upload and retain in their online public inspection files records sufficient to substantiate a certification of compliance with the restrictions on display of website addresses during programming directed to children ages 12 and under.
Issues/Programs Lists: For all commercial and noncommercial radio, television, and Class A television stations, a listing of each station’s most significant treatment of community issues during the past quarter must be placed in the station’s public inspection file. Radio stations in the top 50 markets and in an employment unit with five or more employees will have to place these reports in the new online public inspection file, while all other radio stations may continue to place hard copies in the paper file for the time being. Television and Class A television stations will continue upload them to the online file. The list should include a brief narrative describing the issues covered and the programs which provided the coverage, with information concerning the time, date, duration, and title of each program.
Class A Television Continuing Eligibility Documentation: The Commission requires that all Class A Television maintain in their online public inspection files documentation sufficient to demonstrate that the station is continuing to meet the eligibility requirements of broadcasting at least 18 hours per day and broadcasting an average of at least three hours per week of locally produced programming. While the Commission has given no guidance as to what this documentation must include or when it must be added to the public file, we believe that a quarterly certification which states that the station continues to broadcast at least 18 hours per day, that it broadcasts on average at least three hours per week of locally produced programming, and lists the titles of such locally produced programs should be sufficient.
January 23, 2017:
Promoting Diverse and Independent Programming: Reply Comments are due regarding the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rule Making with regard to proposed steps to promote the distribution of independent and diverse video programming to consumers.