The FCC yesterday released two public notices about the procedures to be used in the upcoming radio license renewal cycle. These actions were previewed by the FCC at the NAB Convention last week (see our article here). As we wrote here and here, the license renewal cycle begins with the filing of license renewal applications by stations in Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia and West Virginia that must be submitted by June 3 (as the June 1 deadline falls on a weekend, the deadline is extended to the next business day). Stations in these states should already be running their Pre-Filing Announcements on the 1st and 16th of the 2 months preceding the renewal filing (see our articles here and here).
The first of yesterday’s notices announces that the renewals will be filed in the FCC’s LMS database which was first used by radio broadcasters in connection with the filing of their last set of Biennial Ownership Reports. In addition to the license renewal form (now FCC Form 2100, Schedule 303-S), broadcasters will also have to submit a Broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity Program Report (LMS Form 2100, Schedule 396). The Public Notice says that the forms will be available by May 1. It also notes that, over time, other radio forms will migrate to the LMS database as the FCC leaves behind CDBS, the database that it has used for broadcasting for well over a decade.
The second Public Notice provides some more details about the renewal process. It makes clear that all stations, whether or not they have 5 full-time employees, will need to file both Schedule 303-S and Schedule 396. In connection with the EEO filing, stations with fewer than 5 full-time employees are only certifying that they have that number of employees, and reporting on whether there have been any EEO proceedings filed against them. The FCC also reminds broadcasters of their pre-filing announcement obligations referenced above and of their general duty to keep their online public file complete and up to date, confirming that if the online file is not complete by renewal time, fines are possible (see our articles here and here). For stations in the first renewal group, applications can be submitted any time after May 1.
Radio station operators should carefully review these new forms and their revised instructions and familiarize themselves with the workings of LMS if they have not already used that system. The upcoming renewal period is rapidly approaching, and these public notices make clear that the FCC will be closely monitoring your compliance with its rules.