Editor’s note:  On Thursday, November 21, 2019 from 3 – 5 p.m., the MAB will present a live webinar “Preparing for the 2020 Elections” with David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP and Bobby Baker, FCC.  2020 is bound to be a very active year for political broadcasting. Who do you have to sell advertising time to? How much can you charge? What paperwork do you need to retain? Who is watching what you do, and what issues are likely to arise in the coming election? These issues and more will be addressed in the webinar.  The webinar is free to MAB members.  Sign up here.

David Oxenford - Color

David Oxenford

By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

November is not one of those months with due dates for renewal filings, EEO public file reports or quarterly issues programs reports. Some of those obligations wait until December, when renewal filings for radio stations in Georgia and Alabama are due by December 2 (as December 1 falls on a weekend). Due for uploading on or before December 1 are EEO public file reports for station employment units with 5 or more full-time employees for radio or television stations in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Vermont.

November 1 does signal the first day on which radio and TV stations can file their Biennial Ownership Reports. As we wrote here, the FCC has extended the deadline date for those filings until January 31, 2020 as the FCC is making refinements in its forms in the LMS filing system. Reports are to reflect the licensee’s ownership as of October 1, 2019 so stations have the information that they need and can start filing their reports later this week.

While there are no license renewal filing deadlines in November, post-filing license renewal notices must continue to be broadcast on radio stations that filed their renewals on or before November 1 in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Pre-filing announcements must also be run by the radio stations in Alabama and Georgia that will be filing their renewal applications by December 2. These pre- and post-filing announcements are to be run on the 1st and the 16th of November. And pre-filing announcements for radio stations in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi must begin on December 1.

Comments are due on the procedures for the upcoming auction for new commercial FM allotments on November 6, though the auction itself will not be held until April 2020 (see our article here). The FCC’s Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking dealing with the annual regulatory fees paid by VHF television stations and stations involved in an FCC incubator program are due on November 22 (see our article here).

Comments are also due in November on a proposal to adopt more flexible rules for distributed transmission service by television stations that adopt the new NextGen (ATSC 3.0) television transmission standard. Initial comments on that proposal are due on November 12, with reply comments due November 27. See our article here for more information.

Reply Comments on the FCC’s review of its broadcast EEO rules are due November 4 (see our article here on the proceeding). Comments on the FCC’s proceeding to look at whether to change the requirements for providing local public notice of broadcast applications are due on November 18, with reply comments due December 2. See our article here on that proceeding.

LPTV stations and TV translators have until November 14 to file applications for reimbursement of the expenses that they incurred due to repacking issues following the TV incentive auction. See our articles here on the FCC’s extension of the filing deadline to November 14, and here and here on the reimbursement process.

The FCC will also be conducting a Forum on November 21 to review the state of the broadcast industry – looking at radio in the morning and TV in the afternoon. We’ll write more about that Forum tomorrow. For more information about the event, see the FCC’s Public Notice here.

The monthly FCC open meeting, to be held on November 19, will examine two broadcast issues. First, it will look at a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that proposes to allow AM radio broadcasters to operate in an all-digital mode. The FCC’s draft NPRM is available here. The second item is a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing to eliminate or modify the rule that restricts simulcast programing on two stations in the same service (AM or FM) if they serve substantially the same area. The draft NPRM is available here.

As always, these are just highlights of the regulatory issues for broadcasters this coming month. Always check with your own counsel and advisors to determine what dates and deadlines might affect your station’s obligations.

David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).

There are no additional costs for the call; the advice is free as part of your MAB membership.

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