June regulatory dates for broadcasters: license renewals and filings, EEO comments and responses, upfront auction payments, announcement of streaming rates, etc.
As the schedule moves to June, pandemic restrictions across the country continue to loosen and we approach summer. Broadcasters could be forgiven for not having the statutory dates and deadlines in mind. There are, however, many important dates and deadlines to follow in June – we detail a few below. As always, be sure to stay in touch with your FCC attorney to find out the dates and deadlines applicable to your transactions.
Radio stations in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming and television stations in Michigan and Ohio should put the finishing touches on their license renewal applications, which must be June 1. Check out our article here on how to prepare for license renewal. These stations must also file with the FCC a Distribute the EEO program report (Form 2100, Schedule 396) and, if they are part of a station employment unit (a station or group of jointly owned stations in the same market that share at least one employee) with 5 or more full-time employees, upload to their public record and post on their station website a link to their Annual report on the OEE’s public inspection file covering their hiring and employment awareness activities during the twelve months June 1, 2020 at May 31, 2021.
In addition to the aforementioned stations which request renewal of their license, radio stations Michigan and Ohio, TV channels in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming, and radio and television stations in the District of Colombia, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia must, if they are part of a station employment unit with at least 5 full-time employees, upload to their public record and post on their station’s website a link to their Annual report on the OEE’s public inspection file covering their hiring and employment awareness activities for June 1, 2020 through May 31, 2021.
On or before June 3, interested parties are invited to provide their comments on Commercial Advertising Sound Attenuation Act (CALM). The FCC’s call for comment is wide-ranging and asks whether the rules put in place over a decade ago have been effective in preventing loud advertisements. Specifically, the FCC wants to hear from consumers about their experiences with loud advertisements and the industry on whether the rules are still serving their purpose or need to be updated. Reply comments are due by July 9th. We wrote more on the CALM law and this comment period, here, including the letter from Congress that kicked off this new look at the rules of the CALM Act.
June 3 is also the deadline for comments on the FCC’s proposed increase regulatory broadcasting costs, which will be due before October 1st. We’ve written here and here about the FCC’s tentative plan that increases fees for most broadcasters. The role is likely to attract comments from parties, such as the National Association of Broadcasters, who will argue that broadcasters bear a greater financial burden than they should be depending on how the FCC allocates time. spent on regulating each industry it oversees – an allowance that is used to determine the amount of fees paid by each industry. Reply comments are due by June 18, parties monitoring the case and wishing to submit responses should therefore be prepared to return them promptly.
Commentators walked through June 7 to submit comments on any FCC rules that arose after the adoption of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CAACA), 2010. CAAC was designed to make broadcasts and other communication channels more accessible and resulted in requirements such as audio description of television programming and captioning of Internet television programming. Reply comments are due by July 6. We’ve written more about CAAC and the request for comment, here.
Through June 14, the Copyright Royalty Board should render its decision in the webcast procedure that was supposed to end last year, but was delayed due to the pandemic. The tariffs to pay are in question 2021-2025 to SoundExchange by webcasters, including those who simultaneous broadcast their programming on the internet, for the digital public performance of sound recordings. Although the rates are announced six months in 2021, they will likely be retroactive to January 1, with a realignment period scheduled for catch-up payments, if necessary. We’ve taken an in-depth look at the ongoing process here.
Potential bidders in Auction 109 who have submitted an abbreviated application have until June 16 to submit their Upfront payment. Upfront payment is required under the auction rules for a bidder to bid during the auction. Payments must be made by bank transfer and be received by the FCC no later than 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time June 16. A FCC Form 159 (Payment Advice Form) must accompany each initial payment. Potential bidders who do not submit an upfront payment will be disqualified from the auction, which is expected to begin on July 27. See, here, the procedures that will govern the auction. Note that we are now in the “silent period” of the auction, which means that applicants are prohibited from cooperating or collaborating with respect to, communicating or disclosing in any way whatsoever. substance of their own or that of the other, or any other candidate’s bidding or auction strategies (including post-auction market structure), or the discussion or negotiation of settlement agreements, until the auction deposit payment deadline.
The FCC invites public comment via June 21st on proposal of increase the maximum allowable power of low power FMs from 100 watts to 250 watts. LPFM advocates have raised this proposal repeatedly and every time the proposal has been rejected by the FCC (we wrote about an earlier attempt, here). The rule-making petition is available here and the accompanying appendix is available here.
Reply comments are due by June 21st on the FCC’s notice of feasibility investigation issue alerts from the emergency alert system via the Internet, including on streaming services. The notice asks if streaming services have the capacity to provide EAS alerts, which services should be required to do so. We’ve written more about the review, here.
As for the month of July, by July 10 all full power radio stations and all full power and class A television stations must download their Quarterly issue programs lists in their online public file. They should therefore look at the issues their communities have faced over the past three months, as well as the programs they are broadcasting to address these issues, and prepare these reports for inclusion in their online public record. We wrote about the importance of these quarterly reports to the FCC, as they are the only documents officially required to show how a station serves the public interest in its service area.
These are just a few of the dates and deadlines to look out for in June. Stay tuned throughout the month to our blog, the FCC website, industry publications, advice from your legal counsel, and other sources of information for updates and more. important dates for your resort.