A Note to Our Readers
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt by every sector of the economy. Due to the unique challenges it poses to broadcasters, however, the FCC has made several changes to its filing deadlines and other obligations for broadcasters in 2020. In response, we are publishing this updated version of our 2020 Broadcasters’ Calendar, reflecting changes announced by the FCC as of May 2020. The FCC may make additional changes going forward, so we encourage broadcasters to stay up to date, including by monitoring CommLawCenter.com, where Pillsbury’s Communications attorneys are closely tracking the FCC’s pandemic response.
Items of Note in 20201
I. Applications for Renewal of License: June 1, 2020 is the first filing deadline in the three-year long license renewal cycle for stations in the television services (full-power television, Class A, TV Translator, and LPTV). The renewal cycle for radio services (AM, FM, FM Translator, and LPFM), which began on June 1, 2019, continues into 2020. Stations will file their license renewal applications on FCC Form 2100, Schedule 303-S (“Form 303-S”) along with their Equal Opportunity Employment Reports on Form 2100, Schedule 396 (“Form 396”). The date by which the licensee must file a station’s application for license renewal depends on the state or territory of the station’s community of license. All licensees should familiarize themselves now with the dates associated with this important filing, including the filing deadline itself (which is approximately four months before the date of license expiration), and the dates on which post-filing announcements must air. Note that the FCC has waived the pre-filing announcement requirement for radio and TV stations scheduled to file their license renewal applications by June 1 or later until its new rules permanently eliminating pre-filing announcements go into effect. These rule changes also modify the post-filing notice requirement, replacing the required newspaper publication with an online notice. The revised local public notice rules are subject to Office of Management and Budget (“OMB”) review and will go into effect following OMB approval.
II. Commercial and Noncommercial Biennial Ownership Reports: January 31, 2020 is the deadline by which licensees of commercial and noncommercial radio and television stations, as well as entities with attributable interests in such stations, must file their biennial ownership reports. Commercial stations will file FCC Form 2100, Schedule 323 (“Form 323”), and noncommercial stations will file FCC Form 2100, Schedule 323-E (“Form 323-E”). The filing deadline was extended from the original filing deadline of December 2, 2019 to allow the FCC to implement technical improvements to the Form 323/323-E report in the FCC’s Licensing and Management System (“LMS”). This cycle’s filing window opened November 1, 2019, and the information in all ownership reports must be accurate as of October 1, 2019.
1. The deadlines in the 2020 Broadcasters’ Calendar are based on information known as of the date hereof and may or may not apply to any particular broadcaster. They are provided for general informational purposes only and should be double-checked for currency close to each pertinent date/deadline. Actions by the FCC, Congress, or the courts could affect any of these deadlines by, for example, eliminating a particular reporting/filing obligation altogether or modifying the form used, content, deadline, fee, or manner of reporting/filing. It should also be noted that, as a general rule, when a deadline for filing a document with the FCC falls on a weekend or a federal holiday, the filing deadline shifts to the next business day. The listing below is not intended to be complete or exhaustive of all regulatory and non-regulatory deadlines that may apply to a given broadcaster year-to-year. Accordingly, broadcasters should seek the advice of communications counsel to assure timely and proper filing. This edition of our annual Broadcasters' Calendar supersedes all prior editions and accordingly any prior editions should no longer be used.