While we are in the Holiday season, the regulatory obligations faced by broadcasters don’t stop. December brings a continuation of the TV renewal cycle, though we are nearing the end of that cycle. Renewal applications for all TV, Class A and LPTV stations in the following states are due on December 1: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. These stations need to file their first two post-filing license renewal announcements on the first and 16th of the month. Stations that filed their license renewal applications in October also will be broadcasting their post-filing announcements on those same days (their last two announcements). Those would be stations in the following states and territories: Alaska, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, and Saipan. TV stations in the states that file license renewals on February 1 (those in New York and New Jersey) have to start running their pre-filing announcements on the December 1 (and run a second on December 16).
There are other routine filings due in December. On December 1, Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations with employment units with 5 or more full-time employees in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont all need to complete their EEO Public File Report and place that report in their public file (and on their websites, if they have one). Noncommercial stations still have obligations to file Biennial Ownership Reports on every other anniversary of the filing of their license renewal applications. That means that these reports are due on December 1 for Noncommercial Television Stations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont; and on the same day for Noncommercial AM and FM Radio Stations in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
December 1 is also the deadline for the filing of the Annual DTV Ancillary/Supplementary Services Report (FCC Form 317). These are filed by all television stations to report on the revenues that they have generated from their digital television spectrum from non-broadcast uses. For more specifics on all of the deadlines set out above, check out our Broadcasters Regulatory Calendar here.
There are also a few comment deadlines in proceedings directly involving broadcasters during the month. We recently wrote about the FCC’s proposals for extending the deadline for LPTV stations and TV translators to convert to digital operations, and asking for comments on how these stations should be treated after the incentive auction. Comments on the proceeding have just been set by the publication of the order in the Federal Register. Those comments are due on December 29, with reply comments due on January 12. [Update – 12/1/2014 – The FCC today extended the comment date in this proceeding. Comments are now due January 12, and Replies on January 26]
We also expect to see a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to extend the online public inspection file obligations to radio (see our article here). While not yet released, that notice will set comment deadlines on that proposal – but probably not until the sometime into the New Year. An order clarifying TV broadcasters’ on-air captioning quality obligations (which could go into effect as early as sometime in January) is also expected this month, as is the setting of the comment dates on the FCC’s new proposal to revise the disclosure rules for contests (see our article here). A request for comments on expanding the definition of an MVPD to cover “over-the-top” video systems (where programming is delivered over the Internet, see our articles here and here) may also be released in December. So watch for these developments this month.
Another busy month for broadcasters. So be watchful and prepared!