Being close observers of the FCC, Congress, and the federal government in general, we get a lot of questions about what the next year will likely bring in DC. While changes in administrations tend to increase the number of questions like that, rarely have I been as deluged with such requests as this year. Everyone wants to know what a Trump presidency will bring, particularly to the FCC. In the absence of solid information, many have rushed in to fill the information vacuum.
These prognosticators tend to fall into two camps: those who project onto the new FCC all their hopes and wishes (and who inevitably will be disappointed when the FCC charts its own path), and those who are just plain guessing, figuring that they will turn out to be right 50% of the time (overlooking the fact that there are way more than two answers to most problems in Washington). As a result, the only somewhat reliable chatter remains characteristically vague, focusing on very general trends (deregulation anyone?) and avoiding specifics.
However, even with a level of uncertainty at the FCC rarely seen in its 82-year history, there are quite a few things we can predict for 2017 with near certainty. You’ll find all of them in the Pillsbury 2017 Broadcasters’ Calendar, published earlier this week.
For example, without even knowing what proceedings a reconstituted FCC will elect to launch this coming year, we can already predict with a high degree of certainty that the most likely day for the FCC’s filing system to implode will be December 1. Why? Because with the FCC’s announcement this week that NCE stations will join commercial stations in having a unified December 1 ownership report filing deadline (yes, our Broadcast Calendar is that up-to-the-minute), pretty much every station in America will be making at least one filing by that deadline, with most making multiple filings (it is also the deadline for TV stations to file their DTV Ancillary Services Reports, and for stations in eleven states to file Mid-Term EEO Reports).
There are many other deadlines and requirements spelled out in the Broadcasters’ Calendar, so at least in that regard, broadcasters will know what is coming at them in 2017. And, as new developments occur in what promises to be a singularly interesting year at the FCC, you can be certain we’ll be discussing them here at CommLawCenter.
So if all the uncertainty is stressing you out, keep a copy of the Broadcasters’ Calendar close at hand, stay tuned to CommLawCenter, and remind yourself that 2017 isn’t a complete unknown.