FCC Moves Biennial Ownership Report Deadline to December 1

By Paul A. Cicelski In 2009, the FCC adopted an Order which expanded the types of commercial broadcast licensees required to file ownership reports on FCC Form 323 biennially. The FCC also established November 1 (of odd-numbered years) as the single national ownership report filing date for all commercial broadcast stations. As a result, all commercial full-power AM, FM, TV, and Class A and LPTV stations, as well as entities with attributable interests in those stations, were due to file their next biennial ownership reports on November 1 of this year. However, the Media Bureau issued an Order yesterday which moves the November 1, 2011 filing deadline to December 1, 2011. The FCC indicates that despite the change in filing date, the ownership reports should still include a snapshot of station ownership as it existed on October 1, 2011. Keep in mind that the ownership report filing requirement does not apply to TV translators, FM translators, or low power FM stations. The FCC's action also does not affect noncommercial stations, which continue to file their biennial reports on FCC Form 323-E by a filing deadline determined based upon the state in which they are licensed (rather than a single national date). According to the FCC, the filing date was moved because "some licensees and parent entities of multiple stations may be required to file numerous forms and the extra time is intended to permit adequate time to prepare such filings." Despite providing the extra time, the FCC is still encouraging parties to prepare and file their ownership reports as soon as possible. Having provided the extra filing time, the FCC will not be too pleased with broadcasters that fail to meet this new deadline. Broadcasters should therefore accept the FCC's advice and try to avoid last minute ownership filings, which increase the likelihood of technical and other problems that can interfere with a successful filing.

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