In a Public Notice released yesterday, the FCC announced that all Form 398 Annual Children’s Television Programming Reports, which report on the amount of educational and informational programming directed to children was broadcast by any TV station in the prior quarter, need to be filed in the FCC’s new Licensing and Management System (LMS). The FCC is migrating all TV broadcast filings to this new system, and the next Form 398, due by April 10 to report on programming broadcast by stations in the first quarter of this year, must be filed in this system. While LMS has been available for stations to use for these reports since last June, beginning with the reports due in April, no more reports can be filed in the FCC’s old KidVid Filing System.
The Notice was also interesting as it stated that broadcasters need to check their online public files to make sure that these reports are timely uploaded into the file. While the FCC is supposed to automatically link the form as filed with the Commission to the station’s online public inspection file, the notice states that station licensees need to manually upload the report to the online public file if the link is not made within 10 days of the end of the calendar quarter. So if the new system does not quickly upload the report to your public file, you need to do it yourself.
Children’s Television Reports need to be maintained in the public file for the entire license term, and only removed from the file after the next license renewal is granted and that grant become final, i.e. no longer subject to appeal or review. The FCC also reminded stations that they have an obligation to publicize the existence of the reports and their location in the online public file.
As we have written before, the FCC has been closely reviewing these reports as filed with the Commission, and imposing substantial fines on stations for filings that were not made in a timely fashion, fines on stations that did not meet the CORE educational programming obligations, and issuing warnings to stations that claimed that programming was educational and informational when in fact it may not have been. This scrutiny is likely to continue with the current enforcement-minded FCC, so make sure that your reports are timely filed and that you have broadcast the required amount of children’s educational and informational programming.