November is one of those few months where there is a very light load of routine regulatory filings for broadcasters. This is a month with no routine FCC ownership or children’s television reports. There are no routine EEO reports for the public file, and no other FCC regularly-scheduled deadlines.
Of course, there are several other dates that broadcasters need to be aware of. October 31 is the end of the FM translator window to move translators up to 250 miles to serve AM stations – so November 1 will likely bring lessened demand for any translator that did not find a new AM home during the window that has been open to various groups of AM stations since January. Those looking for translators to operate with FM stations may find opportunities now less expensive, but harder to move, so opportunities will be limited to stations near to areas where the translators already are located.
Once the FCC’s Broadcast Incentive Auction for television has concluded, the FCC will announce two windows for new FM translators. These windows (the first for Class C and D AM stations only, and the second for Class A and B AM stations) will only be open to AM licensees that did not participate in the 2016 windows. See our article here for more information.
November also brings the start of Stage 3 of the Reverse Auction, where TV broadcasters will again be bidding to give up their spectrum to wireless users starting on November 1. See the FCC Public Notice here. On Sept. 30, the FCC released a proposed Post-Incentive Auction Repacking plan for TV stations. Comments are due today, Oct. 31, on the FCC’s proposal for conducting the repacking in 10 different transition phases over 39 months. Reply comments on this proposal are due on Nov. 15.
The FCC also released a public notice asking for beta testing of its post-auction system to be used by TV stations applying for reimbursements of expenses they incur after being repacked following the incentive auction. Comments are due on the beta system by Nov. 4. See the Notice here for more details. November 14, 2016 is the deadline for filing comments on the FCC’s proposed updates to the catalog of expenses that will be reimbursable for eligible TV stations. (A link to the Public Notice regarding these updates can be found here.) Reply comments will be due on November 29, 2016.
Also due in November is the Form Three filing reporting on the details of the results that a station had during the nationwide EAS test that was held on Sept. 28. Broadcasters and others have an obligation to file test result data electronically through the FCC’s new Electronic Test Report System (ETRS). EAS Participants were required to complete Form One before the nationwide test, and Form Two immediately after the test. Form Three must be filed within 45 days of the test, by Nov. 14.
Finally, in the week leading up to the election on November 8, broadcasters need to keep charging lowest unit rates to political candidates. For more ideas on political broadcasting issues that broadcasters need to consider in the last week before the election, see our article here.
As always, there are lots of other dates that may be relevant to your station, so make sure that you consult with your broadcast attorney to stay on top of your regulatory obligations. And watch at the end of the month for the December preview, as December is one of those months where all the routine regulatory filings return.