FCC Grants Certain TV Stations Limited Waiver from Online Public File Obligations for Documents from Prior Renewal Terms
Earlier today, we wrote about the FCC's reminder that TV broadcasters must, by February 4, complete the upload to their FCC-mandated online public inspection file all materials from the current renewal term that were created prior to the August 2 effective date of the online public inspection file requirement. We noted that the FCC had not addressed the question of stations that had outstanding renewals from the last renewal term - which could potentially mandate that some stations upload as much as 16 years worth of material to their online files. Well, today, the FCC issued another decision waiving its rules so that stations only need to post Quarterly Issues Programs lists from the current license term on their online public files - subject to some caveats.
There are certain limits on this waiver. If the limits are not met, then all Quarterly Issues Programs lists, back to the last granted renewal, have to be posted to the online public file. The limits include the following:
- The last renewal cannot have been opposed by a member of the public.
- The delay in the renewal cannot have been caused by issues relating to the public interest service of the station to its local service area
- The station must continue to keep the Quarterly Issues Programs lists from the last renewal cycle at the station in a paper public file.
This decision does not relieve stations from all obligations to post materials from prior renewal terms, as described below.
The waiver is limited to the Quarterly Issues Programs Lists. Stations should also have other documents created in the prior term that need to be uploaded. These include the Annual EEO Public Inspection File Report, and certifications of commercial station's compliance with the commercial limits in children's television programs. The waiver does not relieve stations from the obligation to post these or other documents back to the last granted renewal.
The waiver does not in any way limit the requirement for stations to post all of their Quarterly Issues Programs lists from the current renewal term. So, for stations like those in say Indiana or Kentucky that that have an April 1 filing date for their renewal applications, their licenses expire on August 1 of this year. Even if they fit into all the limits on the waiver as set out above, they have to have Quarterly lists reaching back to August 1, 2005 in their online file until their upcoming renewal is granted. But, if their renewal from 2005 was not granted, they still have to maintain online their EEO Annual Reports and their Children's television reports from the prior term - unless the FCC provides a further update between now and Monday. But at least a little relief has been provided to TV broadcasters who may be frantically uploading documents to their public file in anticipation of Monday's deadline.