FCC Eliminates Outdated Radio Technical Rules

On Wednesday, February 16, the FCC adopted a Report & Order to eliminate and amend “outdated or unnecessary” broadcast radio technical rules. As you will see, some of the rule changes do not create new policy or requirements. Rather, the primary purpose of this proceeding is to ensure that all of its rules are consistently with each other. The other changes will have little impact on broadcasters’ current operations.

The FCC voted to eliminate the Transmitter Power Limit Rule for AMs, concluding that it is outdated given its reliance on actual operating antenna input power. The FCC agreed with all 5 commenters submitted by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that argued that elimination of the restriction will allow AMs of any class to use transmitters of any rated power. This would allow the market for transmitters to expand including the secondary market and reduce the number of transmitters that need to be disposed of.

The coverage requirement for NCE stations was clarified by harmonizing an inconsistency between several rules. Originally NCE stations were not required to place a city grade signal over the community of license. When the NCE service was created, the FCC envisioned that the stations would be licensed primarily to institutions of higher learning. The FCC reasoned that even though the Communications Act required stations to be licensed to specific communities, it was also important that the institution itself be able to receive the strongest signal possible. As a result, the FCC’s rule did not require a specified level of signal over the community of license. However, the FCC decided to change that rule in 2000 since most NCE stations are not licensed to educational institutions resulting in a 60 dBu signal over the community rather than the 70 dBu signal in place for commercial stations. The FCC did not update all of its rules at that time to reflect this change and has now amended one its rules to ensure that this requirement is consistent throughout.

The FCC modified the second adjacent protection requirement for the few remaining NCE Class D stations to be consistent with all other NCE station classes. With this change, the less restrictive 100 dBu interfering contour cannot overlap the 2nd adjacent station’s 60 dBu contour (rather than the current 80 dBu contour) when applying for new or modified facilities.

The FCC also amended one of its rules which failed to reflect that the requirement that a FM translator rebroadcasting an AM radio broadcast station must be contained within the greater (rather than the lesser) of either the 2 mV/m daytime contour of the AM station or a 25–mile (40 km) radius centered at the AM transmitter site.

The Report & Order also updates the Border FM Rules affecting radio stations near the Mexican and Canadian borders, and adopting an NAB suggestion about how distances are calculated for border agreements. It updates the rules and eliminates language inconsistent with the terms and requirements of the 1992 U.S.-Mexico FM Broadcasting Agreement and the 1991 U.S.-Canada FM Broadcasting Agreement.

These rule changes will become effective 30 days after Federal Register publication.

For more information on these rule changes contact Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth.

FCC Announces Effective Date of New Political Programming Rules

Recently we posted a blog alerting that the FCC was updating aspects of its political programming and recordkeeping rules.  That FCC Order revised the definition of “legally qualified candidate for public office”, and also amended the political file rules.  The revised rules are effective 30 days after publication of a summary of the order in the Federal Register, except for portions of the rules requiring OMB approval.

The Federal Register published a summary of the order on February 10, 2022.  Therefore, the amendments to the definition of “legally qualified candidate” will take effect on March 14, 2022.  The amendments to the political file requirements still require OMB approval and will become effective after a future publication in the Federal Register.  We will alert you when that occurs.

With an election year ahead, Fletcher Heald will be teaming with several state broadcast associations, led by the Arkansas Broadcasters Association to present a webinar on the FCC’s political broadcasting rules on Thursday, February 24th at 1 pm EST.  Presenting will be Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth attorneys Frank Montero and Sara Hinkle, accompanied by the FCC’s Political Broadcasting team, Bobby Baker, Gary Schonman and Sima Nilsson.  You may register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Du_aP8LTTmG4A8kMhGXdzw. The FCC Q&A will be “off the record”.

In the meantime, if you have questions about compliance with the FCC’s political rules, please contact us.

FCC Announces Procedures and Deadlines for Upcoming Auction of Full Power TV Construction Permits

The FCC announced this week that Auction 112, an auction of 27 construction permits for full power TV stations, is set to begin on June 7, 2022.  The auction procedures were set forth in a Public Notice, and participation will require certification that “the applicant has read the public notice adopting procedures for the auction and that it has familiarized itself both with the auction procedures and with the requirements for obtaining a construction permit for a television broadcast station.”

The filing window for Short-Form Applications (on FCC Form 175) will open on March 17th at 12:00 pm EST and close at 6:00 pm on March 30th.  If you participate in the auction, remember that the FCC’s prohibited communications rule kicks in after the deadline for filing a Short-Form Application.  Under this rule, applicants are prohibited from cooperating or collaborating with each other regarding, communicating about, or disclosing the substance of an applicant’s bids or bidding strategies, and may not discuss or negotiate settlement agreements with each other until after the down payment deadline.  Upfront payments with a complete Remittance Advice Form (FCC Form 159) must be submitted by May 6th at 6:00 pm. A practice “mock” auction will be held on June 3rd.

After bidding closes, winning bidders will be required to file in LMS a more detailed, Long-Form Application for Media Bureau Video Service Authorization to construct the new commercial TV station (on FCC Form 2100, Schedule A).

The auction is targeted to commence on June 7th.  Detailed application instructions will be made available in the Education section of the Auction 112 website. But, as always, contact us at Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth if you have any questions or if you would like assistance participating in the auction.

FCC Set to Decide Fate of Idaho License

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on stations that are off the air for a majority of its license term.  In June of 2021, Snake River Radio, LLC, applied to renew the license of KPCQ (AM) in Chubbuck, Idaho. However, the FCC’s review of the application and station records found that the station had been off the air for a great majority of the license term.  The station’s prolonged periods of silence and apparent inconsistencies in the explanations provided for such silences led the FCC to designate the station for hearing to determine whether renewal of KPCQ’s license is justified.

Snake River acquired KPCQ (then KRTK) on February 1, 2018. From that point until June 14, 2021, KPCQ was off the air 80% of the time for a total of 1,077 days – 350 between 2018 and 2019; 363 between 2019 and 2020; and 364 between 2020 and 2021.

The station initially went silent on June 30, 2018 because the leased tower “was sold to a housing developer” who demanded “removal” of the tower. Just shy of one year later, on June 26, 2019, Snake River filed a Resumption Notice stating, without further explanation, that it had resumed operations at its licensed facilities on June 15, 2019. However, around the same time, Snake River also reported that it went silent again on June 17, 2019 because one of the station’s guy wires had been “clipped and severed.”

The FCC is apparently unconvinced that KPCQ in fact returned to the air for a two-day period just before reaching 12 months of silence, at which point the license would automatically have expired as matter of law.

“Because it is improbable that [Snake River] was able to resume operation with the Station’s licensed facilities after dismantling its tower, we are designating an issue to determine whether the Station’s license expired . . . because the station failed to operate with its authorized facilities for more than 12 months,” Media Bureau Chief Holly Sauer wrote in the Hearing Designation Order released this week.

If the FCC finds that KPCQ was in fact off the air for 12 consecutive months, Snake River’s license would be deemed to have expired at the end of that 12 month period by operation of law. While the Communications Act of 1934, as amended by Congress, allows licenses to be extended or reinstated for any reason that would “promote equity and fairness,” making a showing to overcome the 12-month off-air rule is a very heavy lift.

For more information, contact Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth.

 

 

Sohn FCC Confirmation Hearing Rescheduled

On February 2, 2022, FCC nominee Gigi Sohn was to attend a nomination hearing, but after Democratic Senator Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico suffered a stroke, the Senate Commerce Committee rescheduled Sohn’s hearing. The rescheduled nomination hearing will be on February 9, 2022, and will likely address concerns over Sohn’s former position on the board of Locast, a broadcast streaming service that lost a copyright infringement lawsuit brought by broadcasters such as ABC, NBCUniversal, Disney, and others. It is not yet clear when the Commerce Committee will vote on Sohn’s nomination.

On January 27, 2022, Sohn sent a letter to the FCC indicating that she would recuse herself from issues of retransmission consent and broadcast copyright. Sohn’s letter specifies her recusal for the first three years of her term will be from “any other matter where retransmission consent or television broadcast copyright is a material issue in the Commission’s disposition of a proceeding…”  This stems from a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York finding that Locast had violated copyright by streaming broadcasts without permission or compensation. Under the judgment Locast was to pay $32 million in damages and was barred from operating its service. Since then, the broadcasters agreed to settle for roughly $700,000 in cash and the liquidation of used computer servers.

Despite Sohn’s recusal, there are still questions about her nomination. In a letter sent to Committee Chairwoman Cantwell, the Directors Guild of America object to Sohn’s nomination “in the strongest terms.” The DGA cites Sohn’s hostility toward copyright laws and record of “anti-copyright advocacy” as reasoning for their opposition.

The National Association of Broadcasters had also previously expressed concerns. In an interview with Politico, NAB CEO Curtis LeGeyt said, “On issues where retransmission consent is material, there are going to be some real concerns from the broadcast industry’s perspective on her involvement there”. NAB has since said that Sohn’s recusal has resolved their concerns and that the NAB “look[s] forward to the Senate moving forward with Ms. Sohn’s confirmation…”

The hearing will be available for public viewing at 10:00 a.m. ET via live feed on the Senate Commerce Committee website.

FCC REVISES POLITICAL PROGRAMMING AND ADVERTISING RULES

Today, the FCC released a Report and Order (Order), updating the political programming and recordkeeping rules for broadcast licensees, cable television system operators, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) service providers, and Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) licensees.  The Order revises the definition of “legally qualified candidate for public office” to add the use of social media and creation of a campaign website to the existing list of activities that may be considered in determining whether an individual running as a write-in candidate has made a “substantial showing” of his or her bona fide candidacy, and thus to be qualified for the benefits of reasonable access to station time for advertisements and the lowest unit charge for such advertisements.  The Order also amends the political file rules consistent with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA), which extends the Commission’s political file requirements to any request for the purchase of advertising time for  issue ads, and lists the specific records that must be maintained in the station’s public file.

The attorneys at Fletcher Heald have seen the FCC aggressively enforce the political file rules against numerous broadcasters in the last year, so licensees would be wise to pay close attention to the new revisions to those rules, in order to maintain or enhance their compliance.

Record Keeping and Implementation of the BCRA and Section 315 of the Act.

The FCC has long considered the requirements for licensees to keep accurate records of political advertising in their public files to be critical because the information in these files directly affects, among other things, the statutory rights of opposing candidates to request equal opportunities under Section 315(a) of the Act and present their positions to the public prior to an election.  In addition, the political files allow the public to verify that Commission licensees and regulatees have complied with their obligations relating to use of their facilities by candidates for political office and to obtain information about entities sponsoring candidate and issue advertisements.

In 2002, Congress enacted the BCRA, which expanded the requirements to place in the public file requests for ads not just from candidates for public office, but also to include any request to purchase political advertising time that “communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance,” (i.e., issue ads).   Additionally, Section 315(e)(2) of the Act lists the specific kinds of records that must be maintained in political files, and Section 315(e)(3) of the Act provides that “[t]he information required by [section 315(e)] shall be placed in a political file as soon as possible and shall be retained by the licensee for a period of not less than 2 years.”  Yet, while the FCC expected licensees to comply with these requirements, the specific FCC rules, including Section 73.1943 (for broadcasters), did not refer to issues ads, or list the specific records that must be placed in the public file.  The Order enacts new rules, including a new Section 73.1943, that 1) implicate issue ads (along with ads for candidates) and 2) list the specific records that must be placed in the public file:

(1) whether the request to purchase broadcast time is accepted or rejected by the licensee;

(2) the rate charged for the broadcast time;

(3) the date and time on which the communication is aired;

(4) the class of time that is purchased;

(5) the name of the candidate to which the communication refers and the office to which the candidate is seeking election, the election to which the communication refers, or the issue to which the communication refers (as applicable);

(6) in the case of a request made by, or on behalf of, a candidate, the name of the candidate, the authorized committee of the candidate, and the treasurer of such committee; and

(7) in the case of any other request, the name of the person purchasing the time, the name, address, and phone number of a contact person for such person, and a list of the chief executive officers or members of the executive committee or of the board of directors of such person.

While the above list is consistent with prior Commission guidance, it is now formally a rule.   It is important to recognize that many or all of the pieces of information in the above list may be contained in one document.

“Substantial Showing” for Write-In Candidates

Political programming obligations for certain Commission licensees and regulatees are set forth in Sections 312(a)(7) and 315 of the Communications Act.  Section 312(a)(7) requires broadcast licensees to give legally qualified candidates for federal office “reasonable access” to their facilities, or to permit them to purchase “reasonable amounts of time.” Under Section 315(a), if a broadcast licensee permits one legally qualified candidate for a public office to use its station, it must afford all other candidates for that office an “equal opportunity” to use the station.  Section 315(b) provides that, during certain periods before an election, legally qualified candidates are entitled to “the lowest unit charge of the station for the same class and amount of time for the same period.”

The Communications Act does not define the term “legally qualified candidate,” however the Commission has adopted a definition and codified it in Section 73.1940 of its rules.  Generally, in order to be considered a “legally qualified candidate,” an individual must publicly announce his or her intention to run for office, must be qualified to hold the office for which he or she is a candidate, and must have qualified for a place on the ballot or have publicly committed himself or herself to seeking election by the write-in method.  If seeking election by the write-in method, the individual, in addition to being eligible under applicable law to be a write-in candidate, must make a “substantial showing” that he or she is a bona fide candidate for the office being sought.  That rule provides that the term “substantial showing” of a bona fide candidacy

“ . . . means evidence that the person claiming to be a candidate has engaged to a substantial degree in activities commonly associated with political campaigning.  Such activities normally would include making campaign speeches, distributing campaign literature, issuing press releases, maintaining a campaign committee, and establishing campaign headquarters (even though the headquarters in some instances might be the residence of the candidate or his or her campaign manager).  Not all of the listed activities are necessarily required in each case to demonstrate a substantial showing, and there may be activities not listed herein which would contribute to such a showing.”

In an attempt to bring the rule up to date, the Order revises the rule to include social media and campaign website activities as further indicia that an individual is a bona fide candidate entitled to take advantage of the provisions of Section 312 and 315.  The new rule provides that social media and campaign website activity alone would not solely determine that a candidate is bona fide, but they may be combined with other criteria in the rule to make that determination.

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In the last year, the FCC has been very aggressive in enforcing the rule requiring stations to quickly upload political ad buy documentation to the station’s online public file.  We have no reason to believe that this enforcement campaign is slowing down, so licensees would be wise to be mindful of the new rules in this Order.  The text of the new rules including social media as a criterion for evaluating  whether someone is a bona fide candidate, and listing the documents necessary to upload to a station’s public file will become effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.  The text specifically including issues ads will require approval of the Office of Management and Budget, which should take longer.   But the new list of documents to be uploaded to a station’s public file and the inclusion of issue ads are consistent with prior Commission advice, and so stations should be complying with those requirements already.

Please contact us if you have any questions, or would like our assistance.

 

Virginia’s New Consumer Data Protection Act

On March 2, 2020, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“VCDPA”) into law, making Virginia only the second state to enact such comprehensive data protection legislation (after California).  The law itself becomes effective on January 1, 2023 and will be codified at Virginia Code §59.1-571.

The VCDPA applies to all businesses that either 1) control or process the personal data of at least 100,000 consumers during the calendar year, or 2) derive more than 50% of their gross revenue from the sale of personal data and control or process the personal data of at least 25,000 consumers.

In most times, Virginia is not known to be on the forefront of consumer protection legislation, but this perfect storm permitted its passage. The legislation was made possible by the confluence of a Democratic governor, Democratic state senate, Democratic House of Delegates, and Democratic attorney general – who all wanted this legislation enacted.

Types of Information Covered by VCDPA

The VCDPA protects certain “Sensitive data” including data regarding an individual’s racial or ethnic origin, religious beliefs, mental or physical health diagnoses, sexual orientation, genetic data, citizenship, or immigration status, “personal data from a known child [younger than 13],” or a person’s precise geolocation.

Substantial exemptions of data contained in § 59.1-572(C) including HIPAA health information, health information covered by other federal statutes, consumer credit information protected by the FCRA, educational information protected by FERPA, and other information protected by other federal acts.

What companies are subject to the VCDPA?

“Data brokers” which are high-profile Big Tech companies (i.e., Google, Amazon, etc.) or the lesser-known companies that gather, analyze, package, and sell consumers’ personal information.  According to the VCDPA, data brokers must hit specific thresholds for the law to apply to them. These requirements include:

  • “Persons” (including corporations) must do business in Virginia or sell products and services that target Virginia residents.
  • The organizations have to control the data of at least 100,000 Virginia residents. (This number is decreased to 25,000 residents if the company receives half or more of its revenue from selling personal information)

Exemptions

There are several exemptions for certain entities. These include:

  • Entities that collect data pertaining to employment or other commercial information.
  • Entities in the financial services, research, credit reporting, healthcare, or educational industries.
  • Non-profit entities.

Rights under the VCDPA

The VCDPA grants Consumers (that is, natural persons who are residents of Virginia acting only in an individual or household capacity) a variety of new data “rights.”  These include

  • The right of access. Virginians can request to know all the information a

company collects on them.

  • The right of correction. Consumers can request a company correct wrong

information, and they may have to comply.

  • The right of deletion. Individuals can request the deletion of their data.
  • The right to opt-out of targeted advertising, data selling, and profiling.

The VCDPA includes several exemptions for these “rights.”

Exercising Virginia Citizens’ Rights

Virginia citizens can request that a “Controller” (that is, person(s) within an entity that determine the purpose and means of processing personal data) identify whether it is using that person’s data and, if so, may request access to that data.  The Controller has 45 days to respond (this may be extended for a second 45 days).

Controllers may refuse the above-described requests within 45 days but have to offer an appeals process that includes a mechanism for the Virginia citizen to submit a complaint to the Virginia Attorney General, who has sole enforcement authority under the VCDPA.

If a Virginia citizen finds the information to be inaccurate, they can request correction of the inaccuracies.  They may also seek that the data be deleted and request a portable copy of the data.  The Controller must provide the responsive information free of charge, provided that a request is made no more than twice per year and the request is not manifestly unfounded or excessive.

Organizations can get out of many of these information requests if they feel it causes an “unreasonable burden.” They also do not need to comply if the data collected is pseudonymized (meaning they replaced identifying info with pseudonyms.)

Enforcement/Penalties/Potential Uses of the Act

The VCDPA does not allow Virginia citizens a private right of action to sue companies for violating the law by selling or using their data.

Starting in 2023, any company found in non-compliance with the terms of the VCDPA based upon an action by the Virginia Attorney General will have 30 days to correct their course or be subject to a $7,500 fine for each violation.

One potential use of the VCDPA may be as a standard of care in negligence actions brought by individual citizens due to harm caused by Controllers and “Processors” (a person(s) who processes data for a Controller) in the use of that person’s data.  Therefore, even though the VCDPA does not create a private right of action for Virginia citizens, it is possible that the statute may provide the standard of care for a negligence claim by such citizens.

Other Aspects of the Law

The intent of the VCDPA is for Controllers to have obligations beyond just meeting consumer requests for information and corrections.

Controllers are also supposed to minimize data collection, limit data processing to “purposes that are compatible with the disclosed purposes,” implement reasonable security practices, not discriminate based on the exercise of rights in the law (there may be exceptions for “loyalty” clubs), and obtain opt-in consent for processing sensitive data.

Controllers are supposed to provide accessible, clear, and meaningful privacy notices that include information on the types of information processed, the purpose for processing, how consumers may exercise their rights, categories of data shared with third parties, and the categories of third parties with whom the controller shares data. The privacy notice must also include one or more secure means for consumers to submit the requests allowed by the VCDPA.

Processors have their own set of obligations, although the statute makes clear that Controllers should include appropriate clauses in their contracts with Processors to ensure compliance with the law. However, the law will compel performance regardless of the contract language. Finally, Controllers must conduct and document data protection assessments for certain activities. The Attorney General may request data protection assessments relevant to an investigation.

Attorney General Implementation

The road remains murky as to how the law will be applied by the new Attorney General who entered office on January 15, 2022.  As a Delegate, the new Attorney General voted against the Act initially, but voted for the Act upon final passage.  According to the Washington Post, the Attorney General announced that he may create the office’s first chief privacy counsel to investigate and prosecute cases involving breaches or misuse of personal data as an outgrowth of the VCDPA.

The Path Forward – Advising Clients Subject to the Law

Another twenty-eight states have or are considering their own similar comprehensive privacy laws.  As a result, companies may be subject to several privacy regimes, as other states pass their own privacy laws. For many companies, it may be best to build a compliance program that addresses the common denominator for all the privacy laws. Compliance programs for these laws require both process changes and technical solutions.  Organizations subject to the processing thresholds, or ones that expect to grow to the thresholds in the next couple of years, should begin developing the processes now to ensure compliance.

Some companies will wait to see if a federal law pre-empts the state laws, but this is a risky strategy.  Much of the work done to comply with Virginia’s law will likely be applicable to any federal law.

Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, PC is monitoring the VCDPA and has the expertise to assist companies who may be subject to the law, whether they are seeking to avoid liability or to protect their privacy under the new legislation.  Please contact Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth if you have any questions about the VCDPA.

FCC Adopts Affordable Connectivity Program

On Friday, January 14, 2022, the FCC voted to adopt a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that provides detailed guidance for a long-term internet discount program: the Affordable Connectivity Program. The new rules take effect upon publication in the Federal Register, or after the appropriate publication period has passed – either 30 or 60 days depending on the specific rule at issue.

The Affordable Connectivity Program will distribute $14.2 billion to qualifying households through a discount on internet service bills and a discount on a computer or tablet from participating providers. In particular, the program will provide eligible households with discounts of up to $30 a month for broadband service and up to $75 a month if the household is on Tribal lands. It also will provide a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for eligible households.

Under the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), the Affordable Connectivity Program is open to households that meet one of the following criteria:

(1)   Have incomes at or below 200% of federal poverty guidelines;

(2)   Participate in certain assistance programs, such as Lifeline, Medicaid, SNAP, federal public housing assistance, WIC, or SSI, Tribal specific programs such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations;

(3)   Households with kids receiving free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast;

(4)   Pell grant recipients; or

(5)   If they meet eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income program.

The Report and Order includes provisions for consumer protection including the establishment of a dedicated FCC complaint process for Program participants. The Report and Order also establishes a roadmap to assist transitioning households in the legacy EBB program to the Affordable Connectivity Program.

In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC seeks comments on the structure of and objectives for an outreach partner grant program, as well as on a mechanism with which an eligible household in a high cost area would receive an increased benefit up to $75 per month. Comments and reply comments are due 30 days and 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, respectively.

Customers can sign up by contacting a participating provider, enroll online at https://ACPbenefit.org/, or sign up via mail.  If you have any questions about this program’s requirements, please contact your friendly attorneys at Fletcher Heald & Hildreth.

FCC License Renewal Applications due on February 1st for Radio Stations in New York and New Jersey, and TV stations in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma

FCC License renewal applications and associated EEO Program Reports are due on or before Tuesday, February 1st for radio licensees located in New Jersey and New York and television licensees in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma. Radio and television stations must file renewals regardless of commercial or noncommercial status in the FCC’s licensing Management System (LMS).  Both television and radio licensees must include Schedule 396, the Broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity Program Report, in their renewal application.

The FCC also requires radio and television licensees to provide local post-filing public notice of their renewal applications. Pre-filing announcements are no longer required.  Listeners and viewers may review the station’s filing and file comments regarding renewal applications

For more details on the procedures and timing requirements for public notice, licensees should review the Commission’s Local Public Notice Requirements on their Broadcast Radio License Renewal Page and the Broadcast Television License Renewal Page.

As we have noted, a major focus of the FCC’s review is a thorough inspection of the station’s on-line public inspection file (OPIF).  For that reason we urge all stations with upcoming license renewals to begin a thorough review of their OPIFs.  Any incomplete filings or late filings in the station’s OPIF will have to be disclosed in the renewal application.  Fletcher Heald maintains an archive of resource materials on public file maintenance.

For more information on upcoming license renewal deadlines, licensees can view the complete deadlines by state for radio and deadlines by state for television.

FCC Ends the CDBS Filing Era with switch to LMS

Effective at 5 p.m. EST today, Wednesday, January 12, the FCC’s Media Bureau will no longer accept filings in the Consolidated Database System (CDBS). This move by the Media Bureau is part of the ongoing transition to the Licensing and Management System (LMS) database. The Media Bureau’s sunsetting of CDBS filings will be permanent.  The public, however, still will be able to access CDBS filings previously submitted.

In the case of filings that cannot be submitted using LMS, the form should be submitted as an attachment to audiofilings@fcc.gov  in the “pdf” format. Attachments in any format besides “pdf” will not be accepted for filings. Commercial applicants must remit their fees using the Commission Registration System (CORES) and submit an electronic copy of the proof of payment.

Any filings that may currently be submitted in a paper format will continue to be accepted using existing procedures for paper filing.

To find more information about the LMS system and which filings are currently supported you can visit The Media Bureau’s LMS Help Center or contact your friendly broadcast attorneys at Fletcher Heald & Hildreth.

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