October is one of the busiest months on the broadcast regulatory calendar, as it includes a confluence of routine EEO filing requirements, quarterly filing requirements for Children’s Television Reports, public file uploading for all stations for their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, a Nationwide EAS test, and comment dates in many FCC proceedings. Make sure that you are aware of these upcoming deadlines, particularly ones that may impact your station’s operations.
On October 1, Annual EEO Public Inspection File Reports must be uploaded to the online public inspection filed by Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. There is an additional obligation for Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington which must file Mid-Term EEO Reports with the FCC by October 1.
An additional obligation for all full-power broadcast stations is the requirement to upload to the online public file Quarterly Issues Programs Lists. These must be uploaded by October 10. Given that these have the potential to lead to many fines by the FCC during the license renewal cycle that begins next June 1 if they have not met these obligations, this deadline takes added importance in the current time period. See our article here for a discussion of the importance of these Quarterly Issues Programs lists in a world with an online public file, particularly during the license renewal process.
Also, by that same October 10 deadline, all TV stations (including Class A TV stations) need to file Quarterly Children’s Television Reports with the FCC. These too, were the source of many fines during the last renewal cycle, so be careful of the deadline and be sure to meet these deadlines. See our article here discussing fines issued for not filing these reports on a timely basis, and the FCC’s use of the online public file to catch violations of these filing rules.
Another regulatory obligation for all broadcasters is the Nationwide EAS Test which will now be conducted on October 3 after being postponed by Hurricane Florence. ETRS Form Two, which reports whether or not the test was received, is due that same day by 11:59 PM Eastern Time. Form Three, which gives a more detailed analysis of the test results, is due by November 19. See our article here for more information.
While we hate to sound like a broken record, there is another important deadline for a great many radio and TV stations nationwide. Any station using a C Band satellite dish for the reception of programming is urged by the FCC to register those dishes by October 17. The registration will give the FCC a good idea of what users are operating in the band, as they consider how to repurpose the spectrum for potential use by wireless 5G operations. Stations that do not register their earth stations operating in this band by the deadline also will not be included in any plans for compensation or other considerations if the band is indeed repurposed for other uses. See our article here.
In another proceeding, reply comments on FCC proposal for reporting on false EAS alerts are due October 9. This proceeding is looking at whether to require all stations to report to the FCC any time a false EAS alert is aired on a station. See our post here on the dates, and here on the issues involved in this proceeding.
October 9 is also the date that Reply Comments are due to be filed with the FCC on facts to be included in a required report to be submitted to Congress dealing with the state of competition in the audio marketplace. This Audio Competition Report will take comments filed by parties and the FCC’s own research to inform Congress as to who compete in this marketplace. As the FCC is also looking at reforming the ownership rules for radio in its next Quadrennial Review, these same facts may well inform the proposals made in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in that review. See our summary here.
Reply Comments are also due on the FCC proposals for reimbursing LPTV and FM stations for costs they incur due to the repacking of the TV band as a result of the incentive auction. These reply comments are due October 26. See our article here. October 10 is also the date for repacked TV stations to file Form 387 to report on the status of their repacking efforts.
For TV broadcasters, another important proceeding is the FCC’s review of the weekly obligation for broadcasting 3 hours of educational and informational programming directed to children. Reply comments on reforming these “KidVid” rules are due October 23. See our summary of the issues raised in that proceeding here.
So October is a very busy month. Pay attention to the obligations that we highlight above, and be alert for and any other obligations that may apply to your station in the upcoming month. Avoid regulatory issues that can cost you time and money.
Note, 10/1/2018, 7:40 AM EDT: Reference to filing deadline for Form 387 for repacked TV stations added. Also, filing date for Mid-Term EEO Report corrected.