Quarterly Issues Programs List

October is one of the busiest months on the broadcast regulatory calendar, as it includes a confluence of routine EEO filing requirements, quarterly filing requirements for Children’s Television Reports, public file uploading for all stations for their Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, a Nationwide EAS test, and comment dates in many FCC proceedings. Make sure that you are aware of these upcoming deadlines, particularly ones that may impact your station’s operations.

On October 1, Annual EEO Public Inspection File Reports must be uploaded to the online public inspection filed by Commercial and Noncommercial Full-Power and Class A Television Stations and AM and FM Radio Stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands that are part of an Employment Unit with 5 or more full-time employees. There is an additional obligation for Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Oregon, and Washington which must file Mid-Term EEO Reports with the FCC by October 1.
Continue Reading October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Public File Obligations, Nationwide EAS Test, Registration of C Band Earth Stations, and Comments in Numerous FCC Proceedings

Last week, in our calendar of regulatory dates for broadcasters in July, we reminded broadcasters that their Quarterly Issues Programs lists needed to be placed in their public file by today, July 10. This quarterly requirement has been in place for over 30 years, but is still an obligation whose breach has led to

July brings the obligation for each full-power broadcaster to add a new Quarterly Issues Programs List to their online public inspection file. These reports, summarizing the issues facing each station’s community of license in the prior three months and the programs broadcast by the station to address those issues, must be added to the public file by July 10. As we wrote here, these reports are very important – as they are the only documents legally required by the FCC to show how a station served the public interest. With the online file, these reports can be reviewed by anyone with an Internet connection at any time, which could be particularly concerning for any station that does not meet the filing deadline, especially with license renewals beginning again next year.

Also to be filed with the FCC by July 10, by full-power and Class A TV stations, are Quarterly Children’s Television Reports. While the FCC announced last week that it will be considering a rulemaking proposal at its July meeting to potentially change the rules (see its proposed Notice of Proposed Rulemaking here), for now the requirements remain in place obligating each station to broadcast 3 weekly hours of programming designed to meet the educational and informational needs of children for each free program stream transmitted by the station. Also, certifications need to be included in each station’s online public file demonstrating that the station has complied with the rules limiting the amount of commercialization during children’s television programs.
Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, EAS Reform, LPFM and FM Translators, C Band Earth Stations and More

The FCC yesterday released the agenda for its October 24th Open Meeting, as well as draft orders of the matters to be considered at that meeting. For broadcasters, the single most significant proposal was a draft order (available here) to abolish the requirement that a broadcast station maintain a main studio in close proximity to its city of license that is open to the public and staffed during normal business hours. The FCC’s draft order determines that, in today’s modern world, where much communication with broadcasters is done by phone or electronically, and as stations either have or soon will have their public files available online, there was no longer any need to maintain the rule mandating the main studio. So, if the Commission adopts the draft order at its October 24th meeting, the requirement which has been on the books since 1939 will be eliminated.

Together with the main studio rule, the FCC order would also eliminate the requirement that the station have staff members available at that studio. Instead, the licensee, to maintain contact with their community, must maintain a toll-free number accessible to residents of the station’s city of license. That number must be answered during normal business hours of the station – but the person answering the phone line need not be in the city of license. The FCC urged, but did not require, that the phone line be monitored during other hours as well. The phone line can be shared with multiple stations – so an “800” number available nationwide would seem to meet the requirement.
Continue Reading FCC Releases Draft Order to Abolish Main Studio Rule – To Be Considered at its October 24 Meeting

July is a big month on the Washington regulatory scene for broadcasters. There are, of course, the routine quarterly regulatory obligations. For all stations, commercial and noncommercial, Quarterly Issues Programs Lists, summarizing the most important issues facing a broadcaster’s community, and the programs that were broadcast in the prior quarter to address those issues, must be in a station’s public file (the online public file for all TV stations and for radio stations that have already converted to the online file) by July 10. These are the only required records documenting a station’s service to its community, so do not forget to complete these reports and to timely place them in your public file.

Children’s Television Reports documenting the educational and informational programing broadcast by TV stations to meet their obligation to program at least three hours a week of such programming for each program stream are due to be filed at the FCC by July 10. Also, TV stations must place into their public file documentation showing that they have met the advertising limits imposed on commercials during children’s programming.
Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs and Children’s Television Reports, Comment Dates on Main Studio Rule Elimination and Modernization of Media Regulation, Incentive Auction CP Filing Deadline, Effective Date for Captioning Clips of Live and Near-Live Programming, and Window for FM Translators for AM Stations

Another month has started – and it is one with regulatory dates for broadcasters. All broadcasters, commercial and noncommercial, have an obligation to complete their Quarterly Issues Programs lists and place them into their public inspection filed by October 10. For TV stations and large-market commercial radio, that means that these lists need to be in the online public file by that date (see our article here about the online public file for radio). For TV stations, the 10th also brings the obligation to submit Quarterly Children’s Television Reports on Form 398 to the FCC (as the 10th falls on a Federal holiday, you may be able to file on the 11th, but consult your legal advisor for details on that deadline).

For stations in Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Oregon, Washington, American Samoa, Guam, the Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, Saipan, and the Virgin Islands that are part of employment units with 5 or more full-time employees (30 hours a week or more), EEO public inspection file reports should have been included in their public inspection file by October 1. For Radio Station Employment Units with 11 or more full-time employees in Iowa and Missouri and Television Employment Units with five or more full-time employees in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, Mid-Term EEO Reports on FCC Form 397 should also have been filed at the FCC by October 1. See our article here on the obligation to submit Mid-Term EEO Reports.
Continue Reading October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, EEO Obligations, Noncommercial Biennial Ownership Reports, and Incentive Auction Comment Deadlines

The FCC requires each full-power broadcast station, commercial and noncommercial, to maintain a public inspection file.  Even though this is a longstanding FCC requirement, there are always questions about what goes into the file, and how long those materials must be retained.  The week before last, I conducted a webinar for about 20 state broadcast associations on the FCC’s public file requirements for broadcast stations.  The slides from that presentation, outlining the requirements for the file, and the required retention period for many of the documents that make up that file, are available here.

While many broadcasters wonder if the public file is really worth the time that it takes to maintain given the nonexistent traffic to view that file at most stations, the FCC has continued to insist on its importance – fining or otherwise sanctioning stations for missing or late filed documents.  See, for instance, this case admonishing a TV station for failing to get all of its documents into its online public file in a timely fashion (an admonishment is the equivalent of putting a demerit in the station’s permanent record that could be considered as a prior violation in assessing fines if the FCC finds the station in violation for some other offence).  Particularly at license renewal time, a complete public file can be crucial, as missing documents lead to big fines (see, for instance, our articles here and here), and failure to disclose those missing documents can lead to even more harsh penalties (see our article here).  So maintaining an accurate and complete public file is important.  Quarterly issues programs lists are often the most overlooked requirement.
Continue Reading The Care and Feeding of the Broadcast Public Inspection File – Requirements and Retention Periods, A Presentation on the Issues

Another month is upon us, with the typical list of FCC dates of importance – and some new issues (including incentive auction developments that will probably be a regular part of our news through a good part of next year). One date of importance to some TV broadcasters was yesterday – July 1 – when TV stations affiliated with one of the Big Four TV networks and located in the Top 60 TV markets need to be carrying at least 50 hours of prime time or children’s programming each quarter containing video description. While most of this programming will come from the networks themselves, affiliates in these markets should be now be passing through enough of this video-described programming to meet the quarterly minimums.

July 10 brings other routine filing deadlines. For all broadcasters, by July 10 you should have in your public file (the online public file for TV stations) your Quarterly Issues Programs lists describing the most important issues that faced your community in the prior quarter and the programming that you broadcast to address those issues. Also due to be filed at the FCC by July 10 is your station’s Children’s Television Programming Report on Form 398 describing the programming broadcast on your station to serve the educational and informational needs of children. In addition, TV stations need to place in their online public file information showing compliance with the commercial limits in children’s programming and, for Class A stations, documentation showing continued eligibility for Class A status. For other dates of importance to broadcasters, see our Broadcaster Regulatory Calendar, here.
Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, Incentive Auction Actions, CRB Webcasting Closing Argument and More

A new year, and a new set of regulatory obligations and deadlines for broadcasters and others.  To help track many of the important deadlines for broadcasters in the new year, we have put together a Broadcaster’s Calendar of important regulatory dates for 2015, available here, which highlights many of the dates for the regulatory obligations of broadcasters in 2015.  While not exhaustive, and subject to change, the calendar sets out the regular regulatory dates for broadcasters (e.g. Quarterly Issues Programs lists, Children’s Television Reports, EEO public inspection file reports, reg fee obligations, etc.).  It also highlights dates that don’t necessarily occur every year – like this year’s obligation for commercial broadcasters to file Biennial Ownership Reports.  While the license renewal cycle for TV concludes this year, Mid-Term EEO report obligations (FCC Form 397) for radio stations in the states that were the first to file their renewals in the last radio license renewal cycle (those in the DC area and in the southeast) kick in mid-year for radio employment units with more than 10 full-time employees.  The calendar also lists January dates for webcasters to file various elections (including elections to be treated as a “small broadcaster” which, for broadcasters who stream their stations online but have a very small audience, can lessen payment and reporting obligations).  There are even a few lowest unit rate windows listed for states that have announced state and local elections (and are many other states holding such elections that we were not able to determine dates – so check those locally.

Some of the important January regulatory dates include the obligation of all broadcasters, by the 10th of the month, to have their Quarterly Issues Programs lists in their public file.  TV stations should also place their certifications as to compliance with children’s television commercial limits in their files by that date.  By the 12th (as the 10th is a weekend day), television stations must also submit to the FCC their Form 398 Children’s Television Programming Reports that report on educational and informational programming directed to children. 
Continue Reading A Broadcaster’s Regulatory Calendar for 2015, Plus Important Regulatory Deadlines for January Including Incentive Auction and Captioning Comments

With regulatory fees behind us, October brings a number of the routine quarterly regulatory filing dates.  October 10 for all broadcast stations, commercial and noncommercial, is the date by which your Quarterly Issues Programs lists, setting out the most important issues that faced your community in the last quarter and the programs that you broadcast to address those issues, need to be placed in the physical public inspection file of radio stations, and the online public file of TV broadcasters.  As missing and incomplete Quarterly lists have led to more fines in the recent license renewal violation than any other matter, and as the FCC staffers have been reviewing some of the TV station lists that are now posted in the online public inspection files of station, completing these forms on a timely basis remains very important. 

Full power TV and Class A TV stations by October 10 also need to have filed with the FCC their FCC Form 398 Children’s Television Reports, addressing the educational and informational programming directed to children that they broadcast.  Also, by that same date, they need to upload to their online public files records showing compliance with the limits on commercials during programming directed to children.  Children’s television reports have trailed right behind the Quarterly Issues Programs lists as the source of fines at license renewal time – so be sure that these are completed and filed on a timely basis as well. 
Continue Reading October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, New Form for TV CP Applications, Comments on Captioning of Video Clips and Incentive Auction Reimbursement Form and More!