While there are certainly policy issues throughout the media industry, it is often the small, routine issues that trip up broadcasters. In the last week, there have been two public notices worth noting – one announcing the final transition of broadcast applications to the LMS database, and a second reminding broadcasters that Biennial Ownership Reports will be due by December 1 of this year.
The LMS system has, unfortunately, had its share of troubles (see, for instance, our article here), but the FCC nevertheless released a Public Notice announcing that, effective July 26, another set of broadcast applications will be moving to LMS – completing the transition of all applications for broadcast stations to LMS (with the exception of broadcast auxiliaries like Studio Transmitter links, which will continue to be processed by the FCC’s Wireless Bureau on Wireless Bureau forms, and not by the Media Bureau, which processes all other broadcast applications). The new applications and other filings that are to be done through LMS primarily deal with AM applications, a big category of applications that had, in recent months, been done outside of any electronic filing system. In addition, construction permits for LPFMs will be filed in LMS (which, obviously, is important for the upcoming November filing window), as will certain required notifications which had previously been done through emails. So, starting July 26, 2023, you must file the following applications and notifications through LMS:
- Application for Construction Permit for AM Broadcast Station
- Application for AM Broadcast Station License
- Application for Direct Measurement of AM Broadcast Station
- AM Engineering Special Temporary Authorization (STA)
- Extension of AM Engineering STA
- Application for Construction Permit for New Class D Noncommercial Educational FM Broadcast Station
- Application for Construction Permit for New Low Power FM Station
- Equipment Test Authority Notification
- Program Test Authority Notification
- Restoration of Licensed Operation
In addition, this week the FCC issued another Public Notice, reminding broadcasters of the need to file Biennial Ownership Reports by December 1 of this year. The Ownership Reports detail a company’s ownership and control as of October 1, 2023 (and can be filed any time after that date through December 1). These Form 323 reports (323-E for non-commercial stations) are also filed in LMS. Licensees of commercial and non-commercial full power television, Class A television, low power television, AM radio, and FM radio stations must all file these Ownership Reports by the December 1 deadline. Note that these reports not only detail ownership and control of broadcast stations, but also report on the race and gender of station owners, and their other broadcast interests (see our article from 2021 about the importance the FCC attaches to these filings). The LMS system was designed to track attributable owners through all of their broadcast holdings. Thus, each individual and entity who has an interest in your station needs to obtain its own FCC Registration Number (FRN). The FRN is used in the reports of all stations in which that individual or entity has any interest. Additional reports also need to be filed for each entity that has an attributable interest in any licensee. The process of preparing these reports for entities with interests in an licensee and of obtaining FRNs for all attributable entities and individuals can take time (e.g., you need the social security number for all individuals with interest in commercial licensees and the EIN for all entities – see this article for special rules for certain board members of noncommercial licensees), so you should start to gather this information early.
Pay attention to these FCC procedural matters, as it is often the little things that can cause the most problems for broadcasters.