The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued an Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking last Tuesday that changes several ways in which stations are required to report on minority and women ownership, including deadline changes and expansion of who must be reported.
The deadline, once a staggered procedure, now will have a uniform date for all stations of November 1. The process is still biennial. All data in the report must be current as of October 1. For example, any station that has already filed this year must re-file on November 1 with information current to October 1, 2009. It is unclear whether stations with a previous filing date between May and October will have to file twice.
Further, stations previously exempt from minority and female reporting requirements, including low-power television stations and Class A stations, will now also have to file the report as full-power stations do. Those with non-attributable interests that did not previously have to be reported under the Single Majority Shareholder and Equity/Debt Plus exemptions must now be reported. Also, those who did not previously have to file because they were sole proprietorships and partnerships made up of natural persons will also be required to file biennial reports.
The FCC has authorized several changes to Form 323 and authorized random audits of forms. However, the FCC will not be changing any of the enforcement policies or penalties as it sees the current measures as sufficient to ensure accuracy of filings.
The Order also includes a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking asking whether noncommercial entities (NCE) should be required to report on minority and female ownership. Currently NCE licensees do not have to include information about race, gender or ethnicity, but the FCC believes that information would be helpful to encouraging diversity in broadcasting.
To access the Order and Notice, click here.