October Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – EEO Renewals and Obligations, Quarterly Program Listings, Rulemaking Comments and More

With regulatory fees due today, September 30, 2022 (extended from September 28 due to the effects of Hurricane Ian and certain other technical issues with the payment of fees by this FCC Public noticethe date of the derogation requests also being extended by this Public notice), it’s time to look to October and some of the regulatory dates and deadlines that broadcasters have coming up in the coming month.

October begins with the TV license renewal deadlines for TV, Class A, LPTV and TV Translation Stations in Alaska, American Samoa, Guam, Hawaii, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon and Washington State. The deadline for filing is October 3 like the 1st of the month falls on a Saturday, thus postponing the deadline to the next working day. As previously indicated, renewal requests must be accompanied by FCC Form 2100, Schedule 396 Broadcast EEO Program Report (except for LPFM and TV translators). Stations applying for license renewal should ensure that all documents required to be uploaded to the station’s online public record are complete and have been 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 applying for a license renewal and consult your advisers if you have any questions, especially if you have noticed discrepancies in your online public file or political file. Issues with the public record have already led to broadcaster fines this renewal cycle.

October 3 (also extended as 1st is a weekend day) is also the deadline for radio and television station employment units with five or more full-time employees to obtain a license from the communities of Alaska, American Samoa, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Iowa, Missouri, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon, Puerto Rico and Washington must download EEO Public File Annual Reports to put public inspection files online. This annual report covers hiring and employment awareness activities for the previous year. A link to the uploaded report should also be included on the home page of a station’s website, if it has a website.

For stations subject to the FCC EEO Audit Notice released in August, they have until October 7 to respond to this notice by uploading the required information to their online inspection file. To learn more about this audit opinion, see our article here.

Due to the federal holiday on October 10, October 11 is the deadline for all full power broadcast stations and Class A TV stations to upload their Quarterly issue programs lists for posting inspection files online. The listings should identify issues important to the station’s community and the shows the station airs in July, August, and September that address those issues. When finalizing your listings, do so carefully and accurately, as these are the only official records of how your station serves the public and meets the needs and interests of its community. Check out our article here to learn more about the importance of the quarterly program listing requirement. Additionally, as noted here, the FCC has granted stations in Puerto Rico an extension until November 14 to upload their quarterly program listings due to the effect of Hurricane Fiona. Look to see if the FCC is giving stations in states affected by Hurricane Ian a similar extension.

Other quarterly public record obligations for this October 11e Date include the dates on which Class A TV channels must upload to their public record documentation of continued Class A television eligibility for July 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022 and the date on which non-commercial educational broadcasting stations provide documentation of all on-air fundraiser they conducted interrupted normal programming for the benefit of third parties in the period from July 1 to September 30. See our articles here and here on this obligation.

As election season heats up, stations should remember their obligations to give all candidates — federal, state, and local — lowest unit prices when they buy advertising for their campaigns (see our articles here and here). Likewise, stations should remember to upload to their public file information about the price, schedule, and class of time purchased by any contestant or Federal show advertiser in their online public file within one business day from the date the order for that time was received. To know more political record issuessee this article with a link to a video of a training session I conducted explaining all of these policy brief requirements.

October also brings the date for comments in certain FCC regulatory proceedings. Comments are due October 26with comments in response expected November 25, 2022 on the FCC Request for Comments on the methodology it uses to assign its employees to determine annual regulatory fees. This procedure is important because the FCC employee breakdown determines the regulatory fees paid by each FCC-regulated industry. The fee is set to reimburse the government for FCC’s operating costs, allocated based on the percentage of FCC employees whose time is spent regulating a particular industry. The procedure raises questions about how FCC employees who perform functions that are not industry specific should be assigned to specific royalty payers, including broadcasters.

Comments are due on October 24and responding comments are due November 7, 2022 on Order and Sixth Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (on which we have already reported) to remove or revise the analog rules for LPTV and television translation stations which no longer have practical effect or which are otherwise obsolete or irrelevant after the transition of these stations to digital operation.

Under the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, U.S.-based foreign media offering video programming must submit by October 12 their next semi-annual report disclosing their relationships with their foreign principals, including a description of the legal structure of those relationships and any funding the outlets receive from their foreign principals. To see the reminder issued by the Media Office for more information on who is covered by this requirement and the specific means to be used by such media to provide such reporting.

The Federal Trade Commission has an ongoing process to seek additional public comment on how children are affected by digital advertising and marketing messages that may blur the line between advertising and entertainment (see their announcement on the procedure). The FTC has a October 19, 2022 virtual an event who will examine this subject. The public will have until November 18, 2022 to submit comments. Information on how to submit comments is available on the event page.

As always, this list of dates is not exhaustive and comment deadlines may change. Always review these dates with your legal and technical advisors, and note other dates not listed here that may be relevant to your operations. Although the year is drawing to a close, regulatory obligations never stop, so remember to be mindful of those that may affect your operations.