The FCC yesterday issued a Public Notice, extending the deadlines for all filings that were due to be made next week in the FCC’s LMS or online public file systems. The new deadline is February 28, 2023. While we don’t usually post articles on this blog on Saturday, given that there may be broadcasters around the country hunched over their computers trying to make FCC filings due next week, we thought that we would make an exception today and send this alert.
This extension gives more time to broadcasters to upload many applications and reports that are due to be filed next week. This includes license renewals that were due to be filed by February 1 by television stations, LPTV stations, TV translators, and Class A stations in New York and New Jersey. For all commercial TV stations in the country, the Annual Children’s Programming Reports which were due January 30 are now due by February 28. Quarterly Issues Programs lists for all broadcast stations, which originally were due to be uploaded to station public files by January 10 and then by January 31 per a prior FCC extension, must now be uploaded by February 28. EEO Public File Reports for broadcast employment units with 5 or more full-time employees in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, and Oklahoma were due to be uploaded to the online public file by February 1 – and that deadline too will be extended to February 28. The Public Notice is broad, saying any public file document due to be upload or any FCC application to be filed through LMS are extended until February 28. If you have any FCC deadline coming up, check with your attorney to see if it is covered by this extension. Remember that this applies only to applications and reports to be filed through the FCC’s LMS and online public file systems.
This extension was necessitated by widespread technical issues with the LMS and online public file systems. These issues have been going on throughout the month of January. The technical issues have affected even amendments to applications that have already been filed (e.g., amendments to assignment or transfer applications or construction permit applications). We have even been told of issues with fees being associated with applications that have been filed (leading to the dismissal of some applications for not paying application fees when those fees were in fact paid) and with licensees trying to file applications and finding that their accounts have been frozen because of “red lights” for allegedly unpaid regulatory fees – when those fees had indeed been paid. The systems at the FCC are not totally offline. The problems have been widespread but intermittent (for example, where an upload can be made one minute, and then the next minute uploads will not work). It is possible too that at times a broadcaster may think that their upload was successful, only to later find that it was not in fact saved in the system.
Broadcasters should keep trying to get their documents uploaded. Do not wait until the last minute to upload documents, as there may still be residual issues with the system. And check applications and other documents that you think have been filed properly to make sure that the FCC system has indeed accepted them, and doublecheck fee filings and any subsequent amendments to make sure that they have been associated with the application to which they relate. We have been told that the FCC is working to resolve these issues, but as they are widespread and obviously not yet under control, this extension was issued. Keep working to upload your documents – but you now have some more time to try to get the FCC’s systems to cooperate.