Assignments and Transfers

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. 

Continue Reading FCC Extends End of January Deadlines for LMS and Online Public File Documents Due to Filing System Technical Issues 

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC has sent an e-mail, apparently to all broadcasters, regarding the cybersecurity of broadcast stations that use the DASDEC

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

In a decision this week on the sale of radio stations by Univision Radio to Latino Media Network, the Audio Division of the FCC’s Media Bureau discussed the FCC’s longstanding prohibition on the seller of a broadcast station retaining a “reversionary interest” in the station it is selling.  In this case, FCC staff found that the intent of the buyer to enter into a Local Marketing Agreement by which the seller would program some of the stations after closing was not a reversionary interest, because the buyer was free to make programming decision for the stations as long as it retained ultimate control over that programming and station operations.  Had the LMA been a condition of the sale, or had it served as partial consideration for the sale, the FCC suggested that it would have violated the prohibition against revisionary interests. But as the seller did not make the LMA a condition of the sale, the post-closing decision to enter into an LMA was a programming decision under the control of the buyer and thus was not deemed to be a prohibited reversionary interest.  No matter what the holding of this case, a more fundamental question arises – what is a reversionary interest and why is it prohibited?

In reviewing our blog when writing this article, we noted that in the almost 17 years we have been publishing, we don’t seem to have ever referred specifically to the question of reversionary or retained interests in a broadcast station.  It is an issue that does not come up often, but it is related to another issue that we have written about before – the prohibition on a lender taking a security interest in a broadcast license (see, for instance, our two part article on security interests in broadcast licenses, here and here).  The prohibition on the right of reversion or retained interest in a broadcast license is set out in Section 73.1150 of the FCC rules, which states:

(a) In transferring a broadcast station, the licensee may retain no right of reversion of the license, no right to reassignment of the license in the future, and may not reserve the right to use the facilities of the station for any period whatsoever.

(b) No license, renewal of license, assignment of license or transfer of control of a corporate licensee will be granted or authorized if there is a contract, arrangement or understanding, express or implied, pursuant to which, as consideration or partial consideration for the assignment or transfer, such rights, as stated in paragraph (a) of this section, are retained.

The prohibition against the right of reversion, and the prohibition against a lender taking a security interest directly in a license, were both adopted by the FCC to implement Communications Act requirements that state that a broadcast license does not convey an ownership interest in the spectrum being used, but instead only confers on the license holder a right to use the spectrum that does not extend “beyond the terms, conditions, and periods of the license.”  In adopting the prohibitions against a reversionary interest, and the prohibitions on taking a security interest in a license, the FCC believed that these interests would imply an ownership interest in the license akin to the ownership interest that one might hold in other forms of property that can be subject to leases, mortgages, and other security interests.  Thus, the restrictions were imposed over half a century ago.  But, since being implemented, the FCC has from time to time questioned whether these restrictions really were necessary.
Continue Reading FCC Decision Discusses Prohibition on Retaining Reversionary Interests in Broadcast Licenses After Sale – What Is a Reversionary Interest and Why Is It Prohibited? 

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC issued a Forfeiture Order imposing a penalty of $518,283 against Gray Television, Inc., for violating the FCC’s prohibition

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • Both the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the FCC released public notices, available here and here, alerting broadcasters

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC issued its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing the annual regulatory fees to be paid by September 30, the

The FCC this week released a Public Notice (that we mentioned in our update on regulatory dates for May) announcing that, on May 17, many new applications and other filings will be migrating to the FCC’s newer LMS filing platform.  These include many of the documents that had been until recently filed in the FCC’s old CDBS platform.  These applications had, since CDBS was closed for new filings, been submitted through emails to the FCC (see our articles here and here).

Most notably, the new LMS filings will include requests for Special Temporary Authority – and future requests for extensions of STAs.  The FCC notes that for STAs that had originally been filed in CDBS, rather than filing an extension request for such STAs, applicants should initially file for a new STA in LMS and indicate in an exhibit that the request is for an extension of an existing STA that was filed in CDBS (or by email in the interim processing period).  The full list of applications that will, as of May 17, be filed in LMS is as follows:

  • FM Engineering Special Temporary Authorizations (STAs)
  • Request for Silent STA
  • Extension of STA – Silent
  • Extension of STA – Engineering
  • Suspension of Operations Notification
  • Resumption of Operations
  • AM/FM Digital Notification
  • Modulation Dependent Carrier Level (MDCL) Notification
  • Change of Primary Station Notification
  • Tolling Notification
  • Reduced Power Notification
  • Withdraw Pending Applications


Continue Reading More FCC Broadcast Applications Moving to LMS – Including Requests for STAs

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the last week, and two important deadlines in the week ahead, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC Enforcement Bureau this week announced its latest round of random

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: audiofilings@fcc.gov.

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.
Continue Reading FCC Announces End of Filings in their CDBS Database As of 5 PM Eastern Time Today!