The FCC issued public notices this week on the license renewal process for both radio and television operators. The Public Notice on television renewals was perhaps more significant, as it addressed several issues and procedures for the television renewal process which begins with the filing of renewals for stations located in Maryland, DC, Virginia and West Virginia, to be submitted to the FCC no later than June 1 of this year. The announcement reminds licensees that the application must be filed in the LMS database (where the new form should now be available) and must be accompanied by an EEO Form 2100 Schedule 396, reporting on the station’s hiring practices for the two years prior to the filing of the renewal. The notice also emphasizes the importance of the public inspection file – particularly the documents related to political broadcasting – urging TV stations to review their online public files now prior to filing their renewal application. See our articles here and here on fines issued last year to radio stations for deficiencies in their public files at the beginning of their renewal cycle, and our article here posted just yesterday about the FCC latest ruling about the political file obligations for all broadcast stations.
For radio, the recent Public Notice merely announces that the renewal form has been slightly revised to include a question certifying that the renewal applicant complies with the 2016 FCC multiple ownership rules. As we wrote in December, the Third Circuit decision overturned the FCC’s 2017 revision to its ownership rules (which, among other things, had abolished the broadcast-newspaper cross-ownership rules). As a result of the court’s decision, the FCC began to require that broadcasters include such a certification with their renewal applications. Until now, that certification was to be added in an exhibit, as the form did not specifically request that information. This public notice eliminates the need for the exhibit, as a question has now been added to the form regarding compliance with the ownership rules. It is interesting that this question has been added within a week of the FCC’s filing of a request with the Supreme Court seeking to overturn the Third Circuit decision (see our article here). But, while that petition is under consideration by the Supreme Court, the old ownership rules remain in effect.
For more on the license renewal process, see the webinar that I conducted for the Indiana Broadcasters earlier this year, available here. While specifically addressing stations in Indiana and discussing primarily radio issues as their renewal deadline was approaching, this webinar highlights issues that all broadcasters face when preparing for their license renewals. Of course, consult with your own attorney for advice on the renewal and specific issues that may affect your license renewal submission.