As the calendar turns to September, it means barbecues, the end of summer, and back-to-school. For broadcasters, it also means a number of approaching FCC deadlines – many of which extend to low-power TV and TV translator stations.
Below are some of the key deadlines you should be aware of in the coming months.
- September 20, 2023 – FY 2023 Regulatory Fee Payments Due
Each year, FCC-regulated entities are required to pay annual regulatory fees to fund the FCC’s operations. The fees apply to all FCC authorizations held as of October 1, 2022, even if the station is silent or the license was surrendered for cancellation after that date. For stations that were assigned or transferred after October 1, 2022, the current licensee is responsible for payment.
There is a de minimis threshold of $1,000. If the sum of all regulatory fees you owe in FY 2023 is $1,000 or less, you do not have to pay regulatory fees for FY 2023.
Fees should be paid through the CORES website, which can be found here. Payments received after the deadline will be assessed a 25% late payment penalty.
For more information about the Commission’s regulatory fee procedures, please review this website or contact the FCC Financial Operations Help Desk at (877) 480-3201, Option 6.
- October 1, 2023 – MVPD Carriage Elections for Eligible Stations
Every three years, full-power television stations and qualified LPTV stations must elect whether they wish to exercise their must-carry rights with cable and satellite providers or whether they would prefer to negotiate for retransmission consent. Stations must make their elections for the 2024-2026 cycle by October 1, 2023.
There are very few “qualified low power stations” under the FCC’s rules. A station is only a qualified low power station if: (1) the station’s community of license and the franchise area of the cable system are both located outside the largest 160 Metropolitan Statistical Areas and the population of the community of license on June 30, 1990 did not exceed 35,000 ; (2) there is no full-power TV station licensed to any community within the county served by the cable system; (3) the station is located no more than 35 miles from the cable system’s principal headend; and (4) the station complies with other operational requirements. Class A TV stations are only eligible for must-carry if they meet the definition of a qualified low-power station.
Since 2020, broadcasters have made their carriage elections by email and through a statement uploaded to a station’s public inspection file.
- October 4, 2023 – Nationwide EAS Test
On October 4, 2023, at 2:20 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in coordination with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will conduct a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS). The EAS test will be disseminated through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) in English and Spanish as a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) message with the Nationwide Test of the Emergency Alert System (NPT) code.
All EAS Participants, including most LPTV stations, are required to participate in the test. TV translator stations and stations that are satellites or repeaters of a hub station and “rebroadcast 100 percent of the programming” of that primary or hub station are exempt. TV translator stations should check their station designation in LMS to confirm that they are designated as translators and not LPTV stations.
Following the test, EAS participants must submit “day-of-test” information by filing ETRS Form Two on or before October 5, 2023 and submit detailed post-test data by filing ETRS Form Three on or before November 20, 2023.
The ETRS forms can be accessed here.
- December 1, 2023 – Biennial Ownership Reports Due
Beginning on October 2, 2023, the FCC will open a window during which licensees of commercial and non-commercial full-power television, Class A television, LPTV, AM radio, and FM radio stations must file their required biennial ownership reports. The reports should reflect the ownership report of each station as of October 1, 2023, and be filed by December 1, 2023.
The FCC has made clear that it expects licensees of LPTV stations and any entity in the ownership chain to file biennial ownership reports. There are no exceptions even if you do not own any full power stations.
As always, if you have any questions about these requirements or other legal obligations, you should contact a qualified FCC attorney.