It’s almost August, and despite it being vacation time for many, there are still regulatory dates that must be addressed by the broadcast industry. Routine filing dates this coming month include the need for EEO Public Inspection File Reports to be included in station’s public inspection files (either the online files for all TV stations and those radio stations that have already converted, or in the paper files for those radio groups that have not yet made the switch) for stations that are part of employment units with five or more full-time employees in California, Illinois, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. Links to these reports must also be included on the home page of any stations in such employment units, whether or not the station’s complete public file is available online. For more about station’s ongoing EEO obligations see our article here. EEO Mid-Term Reports are due to be file with the FCC on August 1 by Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in California and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Illinois and Wisconsin. For more on these Mid-Term reports, see our article here.

August also brings the date for Reply Comments in the Modernization of Media Regulation proceeding (see our articles here and here). Reply comments in that proceeding looking to amend or repeal broadcast regulations that no longer make sense in the modern media environment are due by August 4. Many media companies are also watching the Restoring Internet Freedom proceeding, looking at what some people refer to as the Open Internet or Net Neutrality issues, where reply comments are due August 16.
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June brings some of the normal regulatory deadlines for stations in certain states. EEO Public Inspection File Reports need to be placed in the public file (or uploaded to the FCC-hosted public file for TV and large-market radio stations) by Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Arizona, Idaho, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. EEO Mid-Term Reports for Radio Station Employment Units must be filed by radio station employment units with 11 or more full-time employees located in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Michigan and Ohio.

There are few broadcast proceedings with comment dates in June. As we wrote here, the FCC has proposed to amend its regulatory fees for broadcasters, in particular changing the allocations of the amount owed by the radio industry to allocate a greater burden to big stations in big markets, and less to smaller stations in small markets. Initial comments are due on June 22, with replies due on July 7.
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Each year, the FCC is required by Congress to collect regulatory fees to cover the costs of its operations. All entities regulated by the FCC contribute to the amount necessary to cover the FCC’s costs – fees being allocated by the proportion of the total number of FCC employees needed to regulate a particular service. Before requiring the payment of the fees (which is usually done in September, just before the October 1 start of a new fiscal year for the government), the FCC must ask for comments on its proposed allocation of the fees among all those that it regulates. That notice (here), asking for comments on a few proposed changes, including a few changes for broadcasters, was released yesterday. Comments are due June 22 and replies on July 7.

The changes proposed for broadcasters include a reallocation of the fees imposed on stations in top markets. Last year, the FCC imposed, for both radio and TV stations in the biggest markets, higher fees through a new category of fees for stations in the very largest markets. By charging higher fees to larger stations in larger markets, the FCC believed that it could offer regulatory relief through lower fees on those least able to pay – the smaller stations in smaller markets. The FCC now proposes to further adjust the fee burden, allocating even more to stations that serve the largest populations. In yesterday’s order, the FCC offers two tables of potential fees for radio stations. Those tables are set out below. In the first, the FCC sets out proposed fees with this new allocation of the regulatory fee burden. In the second, they allocate the fees due from radio this year, using the same proportions as used last year. They ask for comments as to which better serves the public interest.
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While we are into the holiday season, that does not stop the routine regulatory obligations for broadcasters. December 1 brings a host of routine obligations for stations in many states. EEO public file reports must be added to the public files of Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. Of course, for TV stations and radio stations that have already converted to the online public file, that will mean uploading those reports to the FCC-hosted public file. For all stations, a link needs to be included on the main page of your station website, if your station has a website, which leads to these reports. Mid-Term EEO Reports on FCC Form 397 must be filed with the FCC by December 1 by radio employment units with 11 or more full-time employees in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota and television employment units with five or more full-time employees in Alabama and Georgia. For more on these Mid-Term Reports, see our article here.  

A year from now, on December 1, 2017, all broadcast stations are expected to be required to file Biennial Ownership Reports, including noncommercial stations which now have those reports due on the anniversary date of the filing of their license renewal applications. See our article here on the new obligation that will be effective next year, though appeals of that requirement from some noncommercial groups are pending (see our article here). But, until that rule is effective, non-commercial stations need to continue to file on their renewal anniversary dates. Thus, on December 1 of this year, Noncommercial Television Stations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont and Noncommercial AM and FM Radio Stations in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have the obligation to submit their Biennial Ownership Reports to the FCC.
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The FCC yesterday issued a Public Notice reminding all TV broadcasters (full-power, LPTV, translator and Class A stations, both commercial and noncommercial, if they have digital operations) that they must, by December 1, file a report as to whether or not they provide ancillary and supplementary services through their broadcast spectrum. If

Tomorrow, September 27, is the deadline for commercial broadcasters to submit their annual regulatory fees. We wrote about those fees and this deadline here and here. Don’t forget to get them in by the deadline, as the failure to file on time will result in processing holds on any subsequent application that your

September is one of those unusual months, where there are no regular filing dates for EEO public inspection file reports, quarterly issues programs lists or children’s television reports.  With the unusual start to the month with Labor Day being so late, and the lack of routine deadlines, we didn’t get our usual monthly highlights of upcoming regulatory dates posted as the month began.  While we didn’t do it early, we actually have not missed the many regulatory deadlines and important dates about which broadcasters need to take note this month.

Several are of particular importance for virtually all broadcasters.  As we wrote here and here, Annual Regulatory Fees for all commercial broadcasters are due by September 27.  Any commercial broadcaster that cumulatively owes more than $500 must file its fees by that date – and the fee filing system is already open.  Note that most noncommercial entities are excused from fee filings.
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The FCC today released a series of public notices setting September 27 as the deadline for the filing of Annual Regulatory fees.  We wrote here about the FCC Order setting the amount of those fees, and reminding TV stations, even ones looking to surrender their licenses in the incentive auction, that they must still pay those fees by the upcoming deadline.  These notices also announced that the fee filing system is now up and operating, so fees can be paid at any time.  Finally, the notices talk about some of the details of the fee filing process, covering who is eligible and how exemptions from fee obligations can be obtained.

One of the Public Notices sets out instructions for requests for waivers and deferrals of the fee obligations.  Any party thinking about filing such a request needs to carefully follow the instructions and fully document the reasons for the waiver, as the failure to fully follow the rules will result in penalties and interest.  In fact, to avoid the potential for penalties and interest, the FCC suggests paying the fee and asking for a refund, rather than asking for a deferral and waiver of the fee obligations. 
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Right as everyone was set to enjoy the last glimmer of summer over the long weekend, the FCC issued its Report and Order on the regulatory fees for 2016.  The FCC adopted all the fees for broadcast stations as proposed in its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (about which we wrote about here) with some