Low Power & Class A Television Category

FCC Form 398 Children's Programming Report Due

Posted April 10, 2014

Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must by this date electronically file FCC Form 398 demonstrating their responsiveness to "the educational and informational needs of children" for the period January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014, and ensure a copy of the form as filed with the FCC is in the station's public inspection file.


Certification of Children's Commercial Time Limitations Required

Posted April 10, 2014

Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date records "sufficient to verify compliance" with the FCC's commercial time limitations in children's programming broadcast during the period January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014.


Quarterly Issues/Programs List Required

Posted April 10, 2014

All full-power radio, full-power television, and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date the Quarterly Issues/Programs List covering the period January 1, 2014 through March 31, 2014.


Pre-filing Renewal Announcements for Television Stations

Posted April 1, 2014

Full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, or Wyoming must on this date begin to air their pre-filing renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on April 16, May 1 and May 16.


Post-filing Renewal Announcements for Radio and Television Station

Posted April 1, 2014

Full-power AM and FM radio stations and LPFM stations licensed to communities in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Texas, must begin on this date to air their post-filing license renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on April 16, May 1, May 16, June 1 and June 16. FM Translator and TV Translator stations, as well as LPTV stations not capable of local origination, licensed to communities in these states must arrange for the required newspaper public notice of their license renewal application filing.


FCC Enforcement Monitor

Scott R. Flick Carly A. Deckelboim

Posted March 18, 2014

By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim

March 2014

Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes:

  • FCC Proposes $40,000 Fine for Public Inspection File/License Renewal Violations
  • Short-Term License Renewal and Hefty Fine for Missing QIP Lists
  • $5,000 Fine for FM Station's Failure to Maintain Minimum Operating Hours
Failure to Disclose Rules Violations Leads to $40,000 Fine

Late last month, the FCC issued two essentially identical orders against co-owned Milwaukee and Chicago Class A TV stations in response to a number of missing Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists and Children's Television Programming Reports and for not reporting the missing issues/programs lists in the stations' license renewal applications. The FCC's Media Bureau proposed a $20,000 fine against each station, for a total fine of $40,000.

In late December of last year, the FCC issued Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL") for the two stations, noting that the stations had mentioned in their license renewal applications that they had failed to timely file numerous Children's Television Programming Reports, but had not disclosed the absence from their online public files of over a dozen (each) Quarterly Issues/Program Lists. Section 73.3526 of the FCC's Rules requires licensees to maintain information about station operations in their public inspection files so the public can obtain "timely information about the station at regular intervals."

The base fine for failure to file a required form is $3,000, and the base fine for public file violations is $10,000. After considering the facts, the FCC concluded in each NAL that the respective station was liable for $9,000 for the missing Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, $9,000 for the missing Children's Television Programming Reports, and an additional $2,000 for failing to disclose the missing Quarterly Issues/Program Lists in their renewal applications.

After receiving the NALs, each station requested that the fine be reduced due to an inability to pay. The FCC will not consider reducing a fine based on a claimed inability to pay unless the licensee submits federal tax returns for the last three years, financial statements, or other documentation that accurately demonstrates its financial status. In this case, each station submitted appropriate documentation about its financial condition. However, the FCC was not persuaded that the amount of the fines exceeded each station's ability to pay, and declined to reduce the fines.

Public Inspection File Violations Lead to $46,000 in Fines and Limited License Terms
In connection with recent license renewal applications, the FCC issued four essentially identical Memorandum Opinions and Orders and Notices of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, resulting in $46,000 in fines for a Washington radio licensee. In addition, three of the licensee's four stations' license renewal applications were granted for only a four-year term rather than the normal eight-year term.

The first three of the licensee's stations were missing, respectively, 24, 26, and 20 Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists for various periods during the license term. The fourth station's public inspection file was missing 12 reports for a two-year period spanning from 2006 to 2008.

Continue reading "FCC Enforcement Monitor"


Pre-Filing and Post-Filing License Renewal Announcement Reminder for TV Stations in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming

Scott R. Flick Lauren Lynch Flick

Posted March 14, 2014

By Lauren Lynch Flick and Scott R. Flick

March 2014

TV, Class A TV, and locally originating LPTV stations licensed to communities in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming must begin airing pre-filing license renewal announcements on April 1, 2014. License renewal applications for all TV stations in these states are due by June 2, 2014.

Pre-Filing License Renewal Announcements

Stations in the video services that are licensed to communities in Arizona, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming must file their license renewal applications by June 2, 2014 (June 1 being a Sunday).

Beginning two months prior to that filing, full power TV, Class A TV, and LPTV stations capable of local origination must air four pre-filing renewal announcements alerting the public to the upcoming license renewal application filing. These stations must air the first pre-filing announcement on April 1, 2014. The remaining announcements must air on April 16, May 1, and May 16, 2014, for a total of four announcements. A sign board or slide showing the licensee's address and the FCC's Washington DC address must be displayed while the pre-filing announcements are broadcast.

For commercial stations, at least two of these four announcements must air between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) or 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain). Locally-originating LPTV stations must broadcast these announcements as close to the above schedule as their operating schedule permits. Noncommercial stations must air the announcements at the same times as commercial stations, but need not air any announcements in a month in which the station does not operate. A noncommercial station that will not air some announcements because it is off the air must air the remaining announcements as listed above, i.e., the first two must air between 6:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m. (Eastern/Pacific) or 5:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. (Central/Mountain).

The text of the pre-filing announcement is as follows:

On [date of last renewal grant], [call letters] was granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest as a public trustee until October 1, 2014. [Stations which have not received a renewal grant since the filing of their previous renewal application should modify the foregoing to read: "(Call letters) is licensed by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest as a public trustee."]

Our license will expire on October 1, 2014. We must file an application for renewal with the FCC by June 2, 2014. When filed, a copy of this application will be available for public inspection at www.fcc.gov. It contains information concerning this station's performance during the last eight years [or other period of time covered by the application, if the station's license term was not a standard eight-year license term].

Individuals who wish to advise the FCC of facts relating to our renewal application and to whether this station has operated in the public interest should file comments and petitions with the Commission by September 1, 2014.

Further information concerning the FCC's broadcast license renewal process is available at [address of location of the station] or may be obtained from the FCC, Washington, DC 20554.

If a station misses airing an announcement, it should broadcast a make-up announcement as soon as possible and contact us to further address the situation. As noted above, special rules apply to noncommercial stations that do not normally operate during any month when their announcements would otherwise be required to air, as well as to other silent stations. These stations should contact us to ensure they give the required public notice.

Article continues -- the full article can be found at Pre-Filing and Post-Filing License Renewal Announcement Reminder


FCC Enforcement Monitor

Scott R. Flick Carly A. Deckelboim

Posted February 26, 2014

By Scott R. Flick and Carly A. Deckelboim

February 2014

Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes:

  • FCC Limits License Renewal to Two Years and Assesses $4,000 Fine
  • $24,000 Consent Decree for Incomplete Public Inspection File
  • Hotels Cited for Exceeding Signal Leakage Limits in Aeronautical Bands

Station Assessed Fine for Public File Violations and Granted Short-Term License Renewal
In reviewing the license renewal application for a Meridian, Texas radio station, the FCC's Media Bureau proposed a $4,000 fine for public inspection file violations. It also granted the station's license renewal application, but only for a period of two years (rather than the normal eight), based upon the station's extended periods of silence during the prior license term.

Section 73.3526 of the FCC's Rules requires licensees to maintain information about station operations in the station's public inspection file so the public can obtain "timely information about the station at regular intervals." In its license renewal application, the station indicated that it could not locate a number of its quarterly issues-programs lists. The base forfeiture amount for public inspection file violations is $10,000, but the FCC has authority to adjust that amount up or down based on a licensee's circumstances. Here, the FCC noted that "the violations were extensive, occurring over a period of nearly two years and involving at least 6 issues/programs lists." Despite this, the FCC ultimately imposed a forfeiture amount of only $4,000 since the violations were not "evidence of a pattern of abuse."

The station was also dark for lengthy periods during the prior license term. Section 312(g) of the Communications Act prohibits long periods of silence by licensed stations because licensees have an obligation to provide service to the public by broadcasting on their allocated spectrum. When the FCC reviews a station's renewal application, it considers whether the licensee has adequately served its community of license. Section 309(k) of the Communications Act provides that the renewal application should be granted if "(1) the station has served the public interest, convenience and necessity; (2) there have been no serious violations of the Act or the Rules; and (3) there have been no other violations which, taken together, constitute a pattern of abuse." In this case, the FCC pointed out that the licensee had two periods of silence, each lasting nearly a year, and that the station had been dark for almost half of the license term. Since the licensee had failed to provide "public service programming such as news, public affairs, weather information, and Emergency Alert System notifications" during these long periods of inactivity, the FCC determined that granting a renewal of only two years would be the most effective sanction because it would incentivize the licensee to maintain its broadcast operations and not go silent in the future.

License Agrees to Pay $24,000 Under Terms of Consent Decree for Missing Public File Documents
The FCC has entered into a consent decree with an Atlanta LPTV licensee after conducting a lengthy investigation. Almost two years ago, in March of 2012, the FCC sent a letter to the licensee asking for specific information to determine the station's eligibility for Class A television status. The requested information included the location of the main studio, a description of production equipment, names of employees, the location of the public inspection file, a copy of the quarterly issues/programs lists, and a copy of the public inspection file documentation. In its response, submitted in June of 2012, the licensee informed the FCC that the station had been vandalized and provided police reports and other documentation to account for its failure to produce a public inspection file. In another letter dated almost one year after the licensee's explanatory letter, the FCC asked for further clarification from the licensee regarding the location of the station's public inspection file and why the police report did not mention vandalism of the public inspection file. The licensee replied one month later in July of 2013 and provided another police report to explain the theft of equipment.

Continue reading "FCC Enforcement Monitor"


Pre-filing Renewal Announcements for Radio and Television Stations

Posted February 1, 2014

Full-power AM and FM radio stations and LPFM stations licensed to communities in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Texas, must on this date begin to air their pre-filing renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on February 16, March 1 and March 16.


Post-filing Renewal Announcements for Radio and Television Stations

Posted February 1, 2014

Full-power AM and FM radio stations and LPFM stations licensed to communities in New Jersey or New York, and full-power television stations and Class A television stations, as well as LPTV stations capable of local origination, licensed to communities in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, must begin on this date to air their post-filing license renewal announcements in accordance with the FCC's regulations. Additional announcements must air on February 16, March 1, March 16, April 1 and April 16. FM Translator and TV Translator stations, as well as LPTV stations not capable of local origination, licensed to communities in these states must arrange for the required newspaper public notice of their license renewal application filing.


Filing of Applications for Renewal of Licenses for Radio and Television Stations

Posted February 1, 2014

Full-power AM and FM radio broadcast stations, as well as LPFM and FM Translator stations, licensed to communities in New Jersey or New York, and full-power television, Class A television, LPTV and TV Translator stations, licensed to communities in Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, must electronically file their applications for renewal of license on FCC Form 303-S, along with their Equal Opportunity Employment Reports on FCC Form 396 by this date, and commercial stations must promptly submit their FCC license renewal application filing fee. FCC Forms 303-S and 396 as filed must be placed in stations' public inspection files. Note that since this filing deadline falls on a weekend, the submission of this item to the FCC may be made on February 3.


Class A Television Continuing Eligibility Certification

Posted January 10, 2014

Class A television stations are required to maintain documentation in their public inspection files sufficient to demonstrate continuing compliance with the FCC's Class A eligibility requirements. We recommend that by this date Class A television stations generate such documentation for the period October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013 and place it in their public inspection file.


FCC Form 398 Children's Programming Report Due

Posted January 10, 2014

Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must by this date electronically file FCC Form 398 demonstrating their responsiveness to "the educational and informational needs of children" for the period October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013, and ensure a copy of the form as filed with the FCC is in the station's public inspection file.


Certification of Children's Commercial Time Limitations Required

Posted January 10, 2014

Commercial full-power and Class A television stations must place in their public inspection files by this date records "sufficient to verify compliance" with the FCC's commercial time limitations in children's programming broadcast during the period October 1, 2013 through December 31, 2013.


FCC Enforcement Monitor

Scott R. Flick Paul A. Cicelski

Posted December 19, 2013

By Scott R. Flick and Paul A. Cicelski

December 2013

Pillsbury's communications lawyers have published FCC Enforcement Monitor monthly since 1999 to inform our clients of notable FCC enforcement actions against FCC license holders and others. This month's issue includes:

  • FCC Cancels $20,000 Children's Television Fine
  • Fine and Reporting Requirements Imposed for EEO Violations
  • Individual Fined $15,000 for Unauthorized Operation of a Radio Transmitter

$20,000 Kidvid Fine Rescinded Due to Timely Filing

The FCC has continued to impose fines on numerous licensees for failing to timely file their Children's Television Programming Reports on FCC Form 398. The FCC's rules require that full power and Class A television stations file a Children's Television Programming Report each quarter listing the station's programming that is educational and informational for children, and regularly notify the public as to where to find those reports. The base fine for failing to file a required form with the FCC is $3,000.

In July of this year, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture ("NAL") against a Louisiana licensee for failing to timely file its Children's Television Programing Reports 18 times. After examining the facts and circumstances, including the licensee's failure to disclose the late filings in its license renewal application, the FCC proposed a $20,000 fine.

In response to the NAL, the licensee asserted that the reports in question had been timely filed, and that the "late" dates the FCC was seeing in its filing database were merely amendments to the timely filed reports. Unfortunately, as those who have dealt with the FCC's filing systems are aware, when an amendment to an existing report is filed, the FCC's filing system changes the filing date shown from the original filing date to the filing date of the amendment. That is why it is important to print out evidence of the original filing when it is made, allowing the licensee to demonstrate that a timely filing was made if it is later questioned.

Based on the licensee's ability to produce Submission Confirmation printouts showing that the reports were timely filed, the FCC agreed to rescind the NAL and cancel the $20,000 fine.

License Assessed $20,000 Fine and Reporting Obligations for Failing to Notify Job Referral Sources and Self-Assess Its EEO Performance

Earlier this month, the FCC imposed a $20,000 fine and detailed reporting requirements on an Illinois radio licensee. Under Section 73.2080(c)(1)(ii) of the FCC's Rules, a licensee must provide notices of job openings to any organization that "distributes information about employment opportunities to job seekers upon request by such organization," and under Section 73.2080(c)(3), must "analyze the recruitment program for its employment unit on an ongoing basis."

Continue reading "FCC Enforcement Monitor"