As we reminded broadcasters earlier this month, the first filings of FCC Form 397, the Broadcast Mid-Term EEO Report, will be due to be filed at the FCC on June 1. This report is filed 4 years after the due date for filing of a station’s license renewal application, and is to be filed by all radio station employment units with more than 10 full time employees, and all TV station employment units with five or more employees. The first reports are due on June 1 by radio groups in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. Every two months thereafter, stations in a different group of states will need to file their Mid-Term reports. Last week, the FCC released a Public Notice clarifying some aspects of the filing process.
The Public Notice addressed two principal issues – (1) what happens when radio station clusters and their associated station employment units include stations in different states with different filing deadlines, and (2) what happens when employment units include both radio and television stations in the same state. For radio employment units with stations in different states, the FCC reminds broadcasters that they should have made an election about which state’s filing deadline to use back in 2003 when the current EEO rules were adopted, and they should have been using that election for each of their public file reports since then. That same election would control the filing deadline for the Mid-Term report.
The issue about co-owned radio-television combinations arise as radio stations in a state filed their renewals one year before TV stations in the same state. Thus, the mid-point of their renewal terms fall a year apart. The FCC has concluded that for such radio-TV combinations, the filing date for the television station will control. In other words, the radio-TV combination would file a year after all the non-affiliated radio stations in the same state submit their Mid-Term report, on that date 4 years after the TV renewal was to have been filed.
Our comprehensive memo on the FCC’s EEO requirements can be found here. Our most recent memo summarizing the yearly filing requirement for station’s public file report, and providing a model for that report, can be found here. As we’ve reported, here, the FCC has recently fined stations for less than full compliance with the EEO rules, indicating that they are tightening enforcement of these rules. As the filing of the Mid-Term Report offers the Commission another opportunity to discover instances of noncompliance, stations should be using whatever time is available between now and the due date for filing in their states to insure that their EEO practices are in full compliance with the FCC’s expectations.