On the surface, September appears to have few scheduled regulatory filing dates and deadlines. But it is period in which many broadcasters will be busy with deadlines that occur in early October and into the rest of the Fall. TV stations should be finishing their decision-making on must-carry/retransmission consent elections, which need to be in their public files by October 2 (as the 1st is a holiday). In preparation for the early November filing window for new LPFM stations (see our article here), potential applicants should be determining if a station can technically “fit” in their area without prohibited shortspacings to other stations; if one can be located in their area, they need to locate a transmitter site; and they need to take all the steps other steps needed to be ready to file their application in the early November window. One of the first regulatory dates of note in September is the freeze on FM translator modification applications that goes into effect on September 1 in anticipation of the LPFM window. The freeze will be in effect at least through the end of the LPFM filing window on November 8.
September will also bring the date for the filing of annual regulatory fees by commercial stations. We recently noted that the FCC earlier this month released its Report and Order setting the amount of the annual regulatory fees that broadcasters must pay, but the Commission has not yet followed up on that Order by issuing a Public Notice setting the dates for payment. As these payments must be made before the federal government’s October 1 start of the new fiscal year, we expect that Public Notice any day. We also expect that, as in the past, the FCC’s Media Bureau will release a fee filing guide for the broadcast services. Licensees should continue to monitor this item closely so that they are ready to pay those fees in a window that will open in September, as the failure to timely pay regulatory fees will result in substantial penalties.