Yesterday, we wrote about the regulatory dates coming up for broadcasters in September. Even though that was an extensive list, we realized later that we left a few off. So here are a few more issues to consider in September. Plus, the FCC yesterday reminded repacked TV stations of all of the requirements for TV stations involved in the repacking of the TV band following the Incentive Auction which, as we noted in our post yesterday, formally begins this month.
One date that we overlooked was the effective date for a general increase in FCC application fees – those fees that commercial broadcasters pay every time they file an application for a construction permit, approval of a purchase or sale of a station, a license renewal, an STA or many other requests for FCC action. As we wrote here, the FCC recently announced that the fees were going up to reflect inflation. Last week, the FCC issued a Public Notice announcing that those new fees are effective on September 4. So commercial stations filing applications on September 4 or afterward need to remember to pay the new fees, or risk having their applications returned.
Another obvious date that we omitted from the long list of September regulatory dates is the first day of the Lowest Unit Rate window for the November election. 45 days before a primary or 60 days before a general election, political candidates (whether Federal, state or local – see our post here) can only be charged the lowest unit rate that any commercial advertiser is paying for advertising spots of the same class that are running during the same time period. See our articles here and here for more information about the lowest unit charge window which, for the November election, starts on September 7. For more information about political broadcasting rules generally, see our Political Broadcasting Guide.
A somewhat less obvious date is the deadline for filing TV shared services agreements. In its 2017 order reconsidering the FCC’s decision in its last Quadrennial Review of the ownership rules, the FCC decided to retain the previously announced requirement that TV stations file shared services agreements with the FCC. We wrote about that obligation here, addressing the broad definition that the FCC gave to a shared services agreement. The FCC gave stations 180 days to comply for any agreements that were already in effect at the time the new rule became effective (new agreements being required to be filed “in a timely fashion” once entered into). Time flies, and that 180-day deadline is now upon us, on September 19.
Finally, the FCC on Monday released a Public Notice setting out all the deadlines that must be met by TV stations that are being repacked following the Incentive Auction. With September 14 starting the testing period for TV stations assigned to move to their new channels in Phase 1 of the repacking, this notice is very timely. The notice talks about the deadlines in the transition and the various notices and public education requirements that stations early in the repacking schedule should be contemplating right now. The Public Notice also notes that any Phase 1 station that is unlikely to meet the required November 30 deadline for completion of their transition to their new channel must file an extension by September 4.
So add these to the list of September dates that we gave you yesterday, as well as any other specific deadline that may apply to your own station, and you can see that the academic year will begin with a bang. Get ready for a busy month ahead!