Legal Series: License Renewal in Broadcast Industry: What to Do Now
Radio and television broadcast stations are required to apply for license renewals to the Federal Communications Communication (FCC) every eight years. Failure to do so could lead to thorny regulatory problems which include the possibility of the loss of your license. Now that broadcast stations are well into the license renewal cycle the Knowledge Group has assembled a panel of experts to discuss the most significant issues surrounding license renewal for broadcast stations and what they have learned thus far. Along with practical guidance and best practices, a live Q&A session is also included in this event.
Carly T. Didden, Attorney,
Patton Boggs LLP
- The FCC uses the license renewal process to check licensee compliance with the FCC’s rules. Forfeitures are frequently issued to licensees that are not able to make the certifications on the license renewal application. Licensees should review the license renewal application now and the FCC’s station self inspection checklists to make sure the licensee and its stations are in compliance with the FCC’s rules. Forfeitures are reduced or may only be a warning if the licensee is able to state in its license renewal application that it took steps to remedy any non-compliance with the FCC’s rules prior to filing its license renewal application.
- The FCC recently launched an online Local Public File database hosted by the FCC. At this time, only television stations are required to maintain online Local Public Files. However, the requirements vary depending on if the television station is a large or small market station.
- Licensees need to check their compliance with the FCC’s ownership rules to make sure there have not been any unauthorized changes in control. This is particularly an issue for non-commercial stations since they are controlled by their Boards and the sum of gradual membership changes may trigger the need to file a transfer of control.
Elizabeth Spainhour, Partner,
Brooks, Pierce, McLendon, Humphrey & Leonard, LLP ,
- The license renewal form requires the licensee to certify whether there have been any FCC violations during the license term. What is a “violation” that would compel a negative certification? What kinds of issues do not constitute “violations”?
- The environmental certification on the renewal form has changed since the last renewal cycle. The new renewal form allows stations that have had no material changes in their radio frequency (RF) environment since the station last received a grant of a license application or license renewal application to certify environmental compliance, without the requirement of an exhibit or worksheet. How can stations assess whether there has been a “material change” in the RF environment and whether an exhibit or worksheet must be submitted?
- A Broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity Program Report must be filed in conjunction with a station’s license renewal application. Who must file this report? What must be done to properly complete the form?
- How does the new online public file rule impact the local public file certification?
- Many stations have other authorizations associated with their main broadcast facilities, such as translators, studio transmitter links, etc. What types of licenses are included in the main station license renewal application? What types of authorizations require separate license renewal applications (i.e., low power television stations)?
- What happens if a station does not timely file a renewal application?
Lee G. Petro, Of Counsel,
Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP
- Since the last renewal cycle, the Commission has instituted a non-discrimination requirement in advertising contracts, and requires licensees to certify compliance with this policy. What steps does a licensee have to take to confirm compliance with this certification, and, if necessary, what remedial steps should be taken?
- The deadline for submitting a renewal license is upcoming, but the licensee has received an offer to sell the station to another party. Can the licensee file an assignment of license application while the renewal of license application is pending? What steps should the licensee take to ensure timely processing of the applications.
- In reviewing the public file, it was discovered that the station had not prepared the Issue/Program lists for the past 5 years. Other than acknowledging this failure in the renewal of license application, what other steps should the station take? Should the station expect a forfeiture?
- A licensee of a Class A Television station must certify compliance with the general renewal guidelines, but also must confirm compliance with the additional obligations imposed on Class A stations. What are these additional obligations, and what steps must be taken? What is the impact if the station can no longer make that certification?
Who Should Attend:
- Senior Management of Broadcast Stations/Companies
- Compliance Officers
- Corporate Counsel
- Commercial and contract managers
- Licensing executives
- And Other Interested Professionals
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