This afternoon, the Commission released an Order announcing that, due to technical difficulties, it was temporarily suspending the use of the new FCC Form 323 and, as a consequence, was postponing the January 11, 2010 deadline for the filing of Biennial Ownership Reports for commercial broadcast licensees. The Commission stated that it would announce the reactivation of the new form and the new filing deadline in a subsequent Public Notice. The Order states that the Commission “will temporarily suspend the ability to start a new biennial Form 323 during this interim suspension period but will allow filers to complete and file forms that they have already started should they wish to do so.” The Order also states that the new filing deadline will be at least 90 days from the date that the new form is made available for new biennial filings.
The next Children’s Television Programming Report must be filed with the FCC and placed in stations’ local Public Inspection Files by January 10, 2010, reflecting programming aired during the months of October, November and December 2009.
Statutory and Regulatory Requirements
As a result of the Children’s Television Act of 1990 and the FCC Rules adopted under the Act, full power and Class A television stations are required, among other things, to: (1) limit the amount of commercial matter aired during programs originally produced and broadcast for an audience of children 12 years of age and younger; and (2) air programming responsive to the educational and informational needs of children 16 years of age and younger.
The next Quarterly Issues/Programs List (“Quarterly List”) must be placed in stations’ local public inspection files by January 10, 2010, reflecting information for the months of October, November and December 2009.
Content of the Quarterly List
The FCC requires each broadcast station to air a reasonable amount of programming responsive to significant community needs, issues, and problems as determined by the station. The FCC gives each station the discretion to determine which issues facing the community served by the station are the most significant and how best to respond to them in the station’s overall programming.
As previously reported, stations that have not yet completed construction or commenced operation of their final post-transition DTV facilities must continue the required general DTV Consumer Education Initiatives until they commence operation on their post-transition DTV facilities. Such stations will be required to file another FCC Form 388 by January 10, 2010, providing the Commission with the details of the DTV Consumer initiatives that they performed between October 1 and December 31, 2009.
By January 10, 2010, those television stations, which completed construction and commenced operation with their post-transition final DTV facilities after September 30, 2009 or have not yet completed construction and commenced operation of their post-transition digital facility, are required to report on the DTV Education Initiatives undertaken in the months of October, November and December by electronically filing the FCC Form 388. The FCC Form 388 is also required to be placed in the station’s public inspection file by January 10, 2010 and posted by that date to the station’s website, if it has one.
Effective December 28, 2009, hand or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary must be submitted at its main building: 445 12th Street, SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, DC 20554.
Previously, the FCC required that such filings be made at an address on Massachusetts Avenue, where they were subjected to radiation to prevent mail-borne contaminants from entering the Commission’s main building. The Massachusetts Avenue facility will be closed.
Earlier this week, the FCC released a Public Notice seeking “specific data on the use of spectrum currently licensed to broadcast television stations.” According to the Public Notice, in other proceedings related to the FCC’s development of a National Broadband Plan some commenters “have expressed concern that the United States will not have spectrum sufficient to meet the demand for wireless broadband services in the near future and have urged the Commission to make available more spectrum for commercial uses.” In response, the Public Notice states that “the FCC is reviewing various spectrum bands to understand if all or a portion of the spectrum within these bands could be repurposed for wireless broadband services.”
The Public Notice assumes that existing allocations are insufficient to meet the growing mobile broadband market, and that spectrum must be reallocated to meet this demand. The questions and issues posed in the Public Notice (re-printed below) are probing and complex, questioning whether broadcast television should be “diminished,” whether multiple broadcasters can “share” a 6 MHz channel, whether the FCC can reduce the amount of spectrum assigned to advanced television licensees and what actions, including adoption of receiver standards, the FCC might take to enable broadcasters to make more efficient use of their spectrum.
Today, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing that as of December 9, 2009, the new FCC Form 323 will become available online in the FCC’s CDBS filing system.
Additionally, the FCC announced the availability of a “Special Use FRN” option in reporting attributable interest holders on the new FCC Form 323. The FCC stated that if a filer “is unable to obtain an FRN for any specific individual required to be reported on Form 323, the electronic form contains a mechanism for generating an interim ‘Special Use FRN’ solely for the purposes of completing the form.” The Special Use FRN is only to be used in filing biennial ownership reports on FCC Form 323 and may not be used for any other purpose at the FCC. According to the Public Notice, this option should be used only when necessary and filers should use their “best efforts” to obtain FRNs from all attributable interest holders. The FCC indicates that those who take advantage of the Special Use FRN are still expected to later obtain a “fully compliant” FRN which must be used in all future biennial ownership report filings.