The FCC this week released a Public Notice announcing comment deadlines on rulemaking proposals relating to the FCC Biennial Ownership Reports. The first set of proposals deals with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued earlier this month, proposing a series of changes to the process for filing these reports. The proposals include a requirement that the all persons with attributable interests in broadcast stations get a unique FCC Registration Number (an "FRN"), which will require filing their Social Security numbers with the FCC. The second proceeding is one released in 2009, but is only now being published in the Federal Register triggering the comment deadline. This proposal suggests that certain nonattributable owners be identified and reported on these Biennial Ownership Reports despite their nonattributable status. Comments on these proposals will be due on February 14, 2013, with reply comments due on March 1, 2013.
The Biennial Ownership report, in its current form, was initially adopted in 2009. The new reports were to gather information not just about the ownership of broadcasters, but also about their race, ethnicity and gender, so that the FCC could get a better handle on the presence of minority owners in broadcasting. The first report on the new form was to be filed in November 2009, but that deadline was pushed back to July 2010 when issues with the new form developed. The second Biennial Ownership report was to have been filed by commercial stations in late 2011 (two years after the original date), and the next is due later this year. The information in the first two reports was compiled into the information that formed the basis of the FCC’s December request for comments on the impact of proposed changes in the multiple ownership rules on minority ownership.