With election results still being tabulated in many states in close political races, we thought that it is worth reminding broadcasters of the advice given by the FCC in 2020, when it issued a public notice stating that Lowest Unit Charges (or lowest unit rates as they are often called) do not apply to post-election
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October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Renewals and EEO Obligations, Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, Rulemaking Comments and More
With regulatory fees due today, September 30, 2022 (extended from September 28 because of the effects of Hurricane Ian and some other technical issues with fee payment by this FCC Public Notice, with the date for waiver requests similarly extended by this Public Notice), it is time to look ahead to October and some of the regulatory dates and deadlines that broadcasters have coming in the month ahead.
October starts with the TV license renewal deadlines for Television, Class A, LPTV, and TV Translator Stations in Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, N. Marianas Islands, Oregon and Washington State. The deadline for filing is October 3 as the 1st of the month falls on a Saturday, thus extending the deadline to the next business day. As we have previously advised, renewal applications must be accompanied by FCC Form 2100, Schedule 396 Broadcast EEO Program Report (except for LPFMs and TV translators). Stations filing for renewal of their license should make sure that all documents required to be uploaded to the station’s online public file are complete and were uploaded on time. Note that your Broadcast EEO Program Report must include two years of Annual EEO Public File Reports for FCC review, unless your employment unit employs fewer than five full-time employees. Be sure to read the instructions for the license renewal application and consult with your advisors if you have questions, especially if you have noticed any discrepancies in your online public file or political file. Issues with the public file have already led to fines imposed on TV broadcasters during this renewal cycle.
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July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists and Other Public File Obligations, Lowest Unit Charge Periods, License Renewal, Copyright Filings and More
The lazy days of summer continue to provide little respite from the regulatory actions of importance to broadcasters. The good news is that there are no license renewal or EEO deadlines during the month of July. Nonetheless, there will be a number of July deadlines that require attention.
On July 1, comments are due on the FCC’s Office of Economics and Analytics annual call for comments on the State of Competition in the Communications Marketplace (see the Public Notice calling for these comments). The comments are used to prepare a report to Congress on communications competition issues and are sometimes referenced by the FCC itself in proceedings dealing with competition issues. The FCC seeks comments on a list of questions about competition in both the Video and Audio marketplaces, including the impact of digital competitors on traditional providers and the role that regulation plays in the competitive landscape. Reply comments are due August 1.
July 5 and July 18 are the comment and reply comment deadlines, respectively, for the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the FCC’s proposed regulatory fees for fiscal year 2022. The fees that the FCC is proposing for television (full power and otherwise) and radio stations are set forth in Appendix C and Appendix G of the document. The FCC is proposing an increase of approximately 13% for radio broadcasters. Among other things, the FCC proposes to continue to assess fees for full-power broadcast television stations based on the population covered by a full-service broadcast television station’s contour, and it seeks comment on its mechanism for calculating the regulatory fee based on the this population-based methodology. These fees will be set by the end of August or very early September, to be paid before the October 1 start of the government’s new fiscal year. …
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A Broadcaster’s 2021 Regulatory Calendar – Looking at Some of the Important Dates for the Year Ahead
Here we are, in a new and hopefully more “normal” year – wondering what will be ahead. Each year, at about this time, we put together a look at the regulatory dates ahead for broadcasters – or at least the primary ones that we already know. This year is no different – and we offer for your review our Broadcaster’s Regulatory Calendar for 2021. While this calendar should not be viewed as an exhaustive list of every regulatory date that your station will face, it highlights many of the most important dates for broadcasters in the coming year – including dates for license renewals, EEO Public Inspection File Reports, Quarterly Issues Programs lists, children’s television obligations, annual fee obligations and much more. This year, for LPTV and TV translator operators, there are also dates associated with this summer’s deadline for all such stations to be operating digitally (see our article here).
While this likely will not be a big political advertising year like 2020, there will be some state and local races – so we note the start of the Lowest Unit Charge window for this year’s November election – relevant in states like New Jersey and Virginia where there are races for governor and state legislature, and to the many locations across the country that will have mayor’s races and other state and local political contests. Look for local information about the dates for any primary elections for these elections – as those primaries have their own LUC windows for the 45 days preceding the primary. See our article here on how the other political broadcasting rules apply to state and local elections. …
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Reminder – Lowest Unit Charges Do Apply to Run-Off Elections
Earlier this week, we wrote that the FCC issued a public notice stating that Lowest Unit Charges (or lowest unit rates as they are often called) do not apply to post-election political ads (e.g. ads that urge ballots to be counted in any particular manner). One important caveat to that advice is that LUC does…
FCC Makes Clear that Lowest Unit Charges for Candidate Ads Ends on Election Day
The FCC yesterday released a Public Notice making clear that lowest unit rates (or lowest unit charges) end on Election Day. Some broadcasters had asked the question, fearful that there would be political advertising bought after Election Day to take positions on issues about counting the vote and other legal matters that could arise…
A Video Summary of the Rules on Lowest Unit Rates and Other Political Broadcasting Resources
Back in August, we highlighted some of the many issues in computing lowest unit charges (or “lowest unit rates”) for political candidates which are in effect during the window for the November elections that went into effect on September 4. In this last month before the election, as political advertising ramps up and each party fights over those few undecided viewers, we wanted to bring to your attention a video that I did for the Indiana Broadcasters Association discussing the various issues that arise in determining lowest unit rates. That video summarizes many of the issues that we wrote about back in August and is available here:
At the end of this article, we provide links to other videos produced by the Indiana Broadcasters discussing other political broadcasting issues, and to other articles that we have written on other political broadcasting issues.
As we wrote back in August, lowest unit charges (or “Lowest Unit Rates”) guarantee that, in the 45 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election, legally qualified candidates get the lowest rate for a spot that is then running on the station within any class of advertising time running in any particular daypart. Candidates also get the benefit of all volume discounts without having to buy in volume – i.e., the candidate gets the same rate for buying one spot as your most favored advertiser gets for buying hundreds of spots of the same class. But there are many other aspects to the lowest unit rates, and stations need to be sure that they get these rules right.
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Lowest Unit Rate Window for the November Election Opens on September 4 – Thoughts on Computing Your Lowest Unit Charges to Political Candidates
With the lowest unit charge window for the November elections going into effect on September 4, just two and a half weeks from now, we thought that it was a good idea to review the basic FCC rules and policies affecting those charges. In this election, with the Presidency and control in both houses of Congress at stake as well as many state offices, and with in-person campaigning limited by the pandemic, there may have never been a time when broadcast advertising was more important to political candidates – and likely more in demand by those candidates. Your station needs to be ready to comply with the FCC’s political advertising rules. Today, we will look at lowest unit rate issues. Lowest unit charges (or “Lowest Unit Rates”) guarantee that, in the 45 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election, legally qualified candidates get the lowest rate for a spot that is then running on the station within any class of advertising time running in any particular daypart. Candidates also get the benefit of all volume discounts without having to buy in volume – i.e., the candidate gets the same rate for buying one spot as your most favored advertiser gets for buying hundreds of spots of the same class. But there are many other aspects to the lowest unit rates, and stations need to be sure that they get these rules right.
It is a common misperception that a station has one lowest unit rate, when in fact almost every station will have several – if not dozens of lowest unit rates – one lowest unit rate for each class of time in each daypart. Even at the smallest radio station, there are probably several different classes of advertising spots. For instance, there will be different rates for spots running in morning drive than for those spots that run in the middle of the night. Each time period for which the station charges a differing rate is a class of time that has its own lowest unit rate. On television stations, there are often classes based not only on daypart, but on the individual program. Similarly, if a station sells different rotations, each rotation that offers substantially different benefits to an advertiser will be its own class of time with its own lowest unit rates (e.g. a 6 AM to Noon rotation is a different class than a 6 AM to 6 PM rotation, and both are a different class from a 24-hour rotator – and each can have its own lowest unit rate). So, in the same time period (e.g. morning drive on a radio station), there may be spots running in that period that have multiple lowest unit rates (e.g. spots may end up running in that period that were sold just for morning drive, as well as cheaper spots that were sold as part of a 6 AM to 6 PM rotation that just happened to fall within that period). Federal candidates can buy into any of those classes of time, and they take the same chances as does a commercial advertiser as to where their spots will land (e.g. if a candidate buys a 6 AM to 6 PM rotator, and that rotator ends up in morning drive, another candidate may buy that same rotator the next week and end up at 4 PM. That second candidate can only guarantee that they will end up in morning drive by buying a spot guaranteed in that time period).
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Applying the FCC Guidance on No-Charge Spots and Lowest Unit Charge During the Pandemic
Many stations seem unsure of how to apply the recent FCC guidance that no charge spots given to advertisers to help them through the pandemic do not need to be counted in computing a station’s Lowest Unit Charge, as long as the no-charge spots are not part of paid advertising contracts and are not…
FCC Issues Guidance on No-Charge Advertising and Lowest Unit Charges, and News Sharing Agreements and LMA Rules During COVID-19 Crisis
Yesterday, the FCC released two public notices reflecting its attempts to assist broadcasters coping with the COVID-19 crisis. The first public notice deals with the attempts of several broadcasters to support their advertisers while at the same time filling advertising inventory holes that have been created by the cancellation of other advertising schedules. Broadcasters who…