Since the 1990s, the FCC’s Consolidated Database System (CDBS) has been used for filing broadcast applications. In recent years, though, much of the filing activity has been migrated to the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (LMS). While in some ways not as user-friendly as CDBS, LMS apparently has some advantages in, among other things, its searchability. Given the migration that has already occurred for most FM and TV technical applications, ownership reports, and assignment and transfer applications, CDBS had few continuing uses. Thus, the FCC yesterday announced that it is ending the filing of new applications in the CDBS system at the end of the day today, January 12, 2022, at 5 PM Eastern Time. All filings that were still being made in CDBS and that cannot be submitted via LMS are now to be made by email to an email address set out in the FCC’s Public Notice: email@example.com.
What is left that is not filed in LMS? Filings that, until 5 PM ET today were made in CDBS, include the following:
- AM Application for Construction Permit for Commercial Broadcast Station on Form 301
- AM Application for Construction Permit for Reserved Channel Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Station on Form 340
- AM Applications for Broadcast Station License on Form 302
- Special Temporary Authority (STA) Engineering Requests and Extension of Engineering STA Requests for all audio service stations
- Silent STA / Notification of Suspension/ Resumption of Operations / Extension of Silent STA Requests for all audio service stations
- Change in official mailing address
- AM Digital Notification on Form 335-AM
- All-Digital AM Notification on Form 335-AM
- FM Digital Notification on Form 335-FM
- Amendments to pending applications previously submitted in CDBS
- Pleadings (Petitions to Deny, Informal Objections, Oppositions, Replies, Supplements, Petitions for Reconsideration and Applications for Review) concerning applications submitted through CDBS or using the email procedures that had previously been instituted for some of the above-listed applications in recent years.
In connection with the last bullet, the FCC noted that some parties had been filing pleadings related to applications filed in CDBS in LMS (which usually contains a reference to the CDBS-filed application). The FCC asks that pleadings filed in connection with applications submitted through CDBS be filed with the email system described above, and not through LMS. Pleadings concerning LMS-submitted applications should, of course, be filed in LMS.
The FCC staff will be entering all documents filed by email into CDBS, where they will be available for public review. And the emailed documents will continue to show up on FCC public notices. But broadcasters and their counsel and other advisors will no longer be able to file these documents in CDBS themselves.
So, along with the recent notice that Blackberry devices will no longer be supported, another landmark of electronic communications from the early years of the century is coming to an end at the end of the day today. CDBS will be there to look for historical data and for the FCC-uploaded new information about the applications that had been submitted on that platform, but it will be one less filing system that you will have to worry about yourself as of 5 PM ET today.