While there is a new administration in charge at the FCC, there are still those regular regulatory dates that broadcasters must face, as well as dates unique to pending proceedings that arise from time to time. Before we get to the February dates, we should remind broadcasters of those January 31 dates that they should be considering, including the deadline for signing up for the Interim License Agreement for those radio stations playing music represented by the new performing rights organization GMR (see our articles here and here). January 31 is also the deadline for payment of SoundExchange yearly minimum fees by webcasters (including broadcasters who stream their music on the Internet), as well as the date for comments to the House Judiciary Committee on the structure of the Copyright Office (see our article here) and with the Copyright Office on the qualifications for a new Register of Copyrights (see our article here).
With the start of February, there are routine regulatory dates for broadcasters dealing with EEO requirements. Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees, must place in their public file (or upload to their online file for TV and radio stations that have already converted) their EEO Public File Reports. Stations also need to put a link to the EEO Public File reports on the home page of their websites, if their station has a website (meaning they have to have a webpage for their most recent report if they have not converted to the online public file). For Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, FCC Mid-Term Reports on Form 397 must be submitted to the FCC by February 1. We wrote about FCC Mid-Term Reports here.
Comments are also due in various FCC proceedings of importance to broadcasters. Reply comments are due on February 3 on the Petitions for Reconsideration of the FCC’s Quadrennial Review of its ownership rules (see our articles here and here). Reply comments are also due February 14 on comments that were due yesterday on a proposal to allow online EEO recruitment sources to satisfy the FCC’s requirement that broadcasters widely disseminate information about their job openings (see our summary of the proposal here). Reply Comments are also due on a proposal left from the Wheeler administration on promoting the availability of diverse and independent video programming. These Reply Comments are due on February 22.
We would also expect to see more action on the FCC’s incentive auction, as the “clearing target” for the reverse auction has been met. We’ll see more action in the forward auction and planning for the implementation of the repacking of TV stations into a smaller TV band following the completion of the auction. And, as in every month, we’ll no doubt see many other issues pop up as the new administrations, both at the FCC and more generally in Washington, begin to assert their control.
For other regulatory dates in this and upcoming months, see our Broadcaster’s Calendar for 2017, here.