While January starts off with some regulatory deadlines that apply to all broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs lists must be placed in a station’s public file by the 10th of January – there are many other dates that come due this month, dates to which broadcasters need to pay careful attention. For TV stations, they need to file at the FCC by January 11 (as the 10th is a Sunday) Children’s Television Reports, listing all of the programming that they broadcast in the previous quarter addressing the educational and informational needs of children. Records showing a TV station’s compliance with the commercial limits in children’s television should also be placed in the station’s public file.  As we have written, missing Quarterly Issues Programs lists (see our articles here and here) and Children’s Television Reports (and even late Children’s Television Reports) provided the basis for most of the fines during the last renewal cycle (see, for instance, our article here) – even for missing reports from early in the renewal cycle and, for the Children’s Reports, even where the reports were filed (repeatedly) only a few days late. So it is important to meet the obligations imposed by these regular filing deadlines.

Starting on the first day of this new year, there are a host of other obligations and deadlines that arise. On January 1, TV stations need to be captioning clips of video programming that they make available on their websites or in their mobile apps, if those clips came from programming that was captioned when shown on TV. For more on that obligation, see our article on the new online captioning requirements here.
Continue Reading January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, Incentive Auction, FM Translators for AM Stations, Webcasting Fees, LUR Windows and More

December is one of those months when all commercial broadcasters have at least one FCC deadline, and there are also many other filing dates of which many broadcasters need to take note.  For all commercial broadcasters, Biennial Ownership Reports are due on December 2.  Hopefully, most broadcasters have already completed this filing obligation, as FCC electronic filing systems have been known to slow as a major deadline like this comes closer.  See our article here for more on the Biennial Ownership filing requirement that applies to all commercial broadcast stations.

Noncommercial stations are not yet subject to the uniform Biennial Ownership Report deadline (though the FCC has proposed that happen in the future, see our article here, a proceeding in which a decision could come soon).  But many noncommercial stations do have ownership report deadlines on December 1, as noncommercial reports continue to be due every two years, on even anniversaries of the filing of their license renewal applications.  Noncommercial Television Stations in Colorado, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and South Dakota have to file their Biennial Ownership Reports by that date.  Noncommercial AM and FM Radio Stations in Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont also have the same deadline for their Biennial Ownership Reports. 
Continue Reading December Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Ownership and EEO Reports, Retransmission Consent and Foreign Ownership Rulemaking Comments, Incentive Auction and Accessibility Obligations

The road to the incentive auction’s anticipated start in March continues to be paved. With broadcasters who are intending to participate in the auction needing to file their initial Form 177 applications expressing that intent by January 12 (see our article here), the FCC has published instructions for completing the FCC Form 177 applications, providing an almost line-by-line explanation of the requirements for filing of the forms. These forms are to be filed by every licensee who is thinking about possibly offering their station up for any sort of compensation in the auction, whether that compensation is a total buy-out of their spectrum, or whether it is merely compensation for moving from a UHF channel to a digitally-less-desirable VHF channel. The full instructions for the form are available here and, as we wrote here, you can find a view of the form itself here (with the actual form not to be available until the window for filing that form opens on December 8).

To further explain the process, the FCC will be conducting a webinar on the reverse auction process on December 8 at 1 PM Eastern Time. Information and an agenda for the webinar were released yesterday, and can be found here. The webinar looks to be focusing on the nuts and bolts of the completion of the Form 177, a general overview of the auction process, the specific information sought by the Form including the filing of any channel sharing agreements, and the options for offering your station for buyout or move to VHF in the auction. The Public Notice also provides links to register for the auction and the web page from which the stream will originate (and at which it will be archived).
Continue Reading No Holidays for the Incentive Auction – Instructions and a Webinar for Broadcasters Who Plan to Enter the Auction and Disputes Over Repacking and LPTV

The last week has been a busy one for the FCC in preparing for the December applications by broadcasters for participation in the TV incentive auction. The incentive auction will, of course, offer TV broadcasters money (in some cases, lots of it, at least initially) to vacate their spectrum so that the television band can be “repacked” – consolidated into fewer channels – with the reclaimed spectrum being divided into different size blocks and resold to wireless companies for wireless broadband uses. In the last week, the FCC has made public two forms that will be important to that effort – the Form 177 which (as we wrote here) will be filed in December by broadcasters initially interested in participating in the auction, and the Form 2100 Schedule 399, which will be used to claim reimbursement by TV stations that do not surrender their licenses but which are forced to change channels as part of the repacking. The Form 177, the form that broadcasters must submit if they want to take part in the reverse auction, is not easy to find, but is available here, on the website of the Office of Management and Budget, where it has been submitted for review under the Paperwork Reduction Act before it can be released to broadcasters for submission by the December 18 filing deadline.

Similarly, and a bit more publicly, the FCC has released the form, Form 2100 Schedule 399, which broadcasters who do not sell out in the incentive auction, but instead are repacked and forced to move to another channel, will use to claim reimbursement for such moves. The form reveals the categories of expenses for which reimbursement would be made. This form is also being submitted to OMB for approval under the Paperwork Reduction Act, according to the FCC Public Notice which provided notice of the form.
Continue Reading Closing In on the Incentive Auction – Broadcast Application and Reimbursement Forms Available for Review, Reverse Auction Workshop and TV Interference Calculations