With many Americans using the holiday season to rest and recharge, broadcasters should do the same but not forget that January is a busy month for complying with several important regulatory deadlines for broadcast stations. These include dates that regularly occur for broadcasters, as well as some unique to this month. In fact, with the start of the lowest unit rate windows for primaries and caucuses in many states, January is a very busy regulatory month. So don’t head off to Grandma’s house without making sure that you have all of your regulatory obligations under control.
One date applicable to all full-power stations is the requirement that, by Friday, January 10, 2020, all commercial and noncommercial radio and television stations must upload to their online public file their quarterly issues/programs list for the period covering October 1 – December 31, 2019. The issues/programs list demonstrates the station’s “most significant treatment of community issues” during the three-month period covered by each quarterly report. We wrote about the importance of these reports many times (see, for instance, our posts here and here). With all public files now online, FCC staff, viewers or listeners, or anyone with an internet connection can easily look at your public file, see when you uploaded your Quarterly Report, and review the contents of it. In the current renewal cycle, the FCC has issued two fines of $15,000 each to stations that did not bother with the preparation of these lists (see our posts here and here on those fines). In past years, the FCC has shown a willingness to fine stations or hold up their license renewals or both (see here and here) over public file issues where there was some but not complete compliance with the obligations to retain these issues/programs lists for the entire renewal term. For a short video on the basics of the quarterly issues/programs list and the online public inspection file, see here.