It may be time for summer vacations, but the FCC seemingly never rests, so there are a number of important dates of which broadcasters need to take note. By August 1, EEO Annual Public File Reports are due to added to the public files of Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in California, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin, if those stations are part of an Employment Unit with five or more full-time employees. TV stations in California have the added requirement that they submit an EEO Mid-Term Report with the FCC by that same date. While the FCC last year simplified EEO recruiting, it still enforces the EEO rules, as evidenced by an admonition that was issued to a TV station at the end of last week, and the fines imposed on radio stations late last year. So don’t forget these obligations (especially as the enforcement of these rules will soon be handled by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, rather than the Media Bureau, suggesting that there will be more enforcement of those rules – see our article here).
On other matters, there are numerous open FCC proceedings in which broadcasters may want to participate. Comments are due on August 6 on the FCC’s rulemaking proposal to adopt simplified rules for processing complaints of interference by FM translators to full power stations. See our articles here and here for details on that proposal.
Comments are due by August 13 on the FCC’s Notice of Inquiry about the proposal to add a new class of FM stations – the Class C4. See our article here for more about that inquiry. In addition, that same Notice asks whether the FCC should potentially allow more FM short-spaced stations under Section 73.215 of the rules, by allowing stations taking advantage of that rule by, instead of protecting a station to which they plan to be short-spaced to the maximum possible contours for a station of their class, to instead protect the other station only to its actual contours as currently licensed.
The FCC’s August 2 open meeting will be considering two matters of importance to broadcasters. First, the Commission will likely adopt an order to implement an incubator program to assist new entrants into broadcast ownership by giving existing broadcasters an incentive to provide financial assistance or management training to the new broadcaster. The Commission will also be considering the adoption of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking looking to establish rules for reimbursing LPTV stations and TV translators that are displaced by the incentive auction for the costs of changing channels, and FM broadcasters for costs to move to temporary or permanent facilities to accommodate TV tower work caused by the incentive auction repacking.
Another August deadline is for the filing of EAS Form One, which is due from all EAS participants – radio and TV – to update their information currently on file at the FCC describing their EAS operations. These revised forms are due by August 27 (see our article here), in anticipation of a nationwide EAS test scheduled for September 20.
We will also be looking for announcements on the dates for regulatory fees – which should be announced later in the month. Comment dates will also be set for comments on the FCC Study on the State of the Audio Marketplace (see our article here). And, looking a bit further into the future, comments on possible reform of TV station’s obligations to provide educational and informational programming to children are due on September 24 (see our article here on the issues raised in this proceeding). And all broadcasters who use C Band receive-only Earth Stations should be planning on registering those stations, if they have not already been registered, by October 17 to ensure some protection or other consideration should this be opened to other users pursuant to an FCC proposal that is now pending.
Hardly any time to enjoy those summer beach reads when you have all these FCC proceedings to watch. As always, these are just some of the issues that are on tap for this month – check with your advisors to make sure that your station does not miss anything important that affects your station.