By: David Oxenford, Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP
Earlier this week, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing its plans for the initiation of new annual reporting requirements for TV stations under the revised Children’s Television Rules. As we wrote here, the FCC this summer adopted changes in the rules governing the broadcast of educational and informational programming directed to children. These changes included the abolition of the Quarterly Children’s Television Reports and their replacement with an annual Children’s Report to detail a station’s performance in meeting the new educational and informational programming requirements. Earlier this fall, the FCC released guidance on the reporting of information from the third quarter of this year, as the new rules became effective on September 16 (see our article here). The Public Notice released this week covers the full transition to the annual reports.
The FCC anticipates the revised annual report will be ready for use in the FCC’s LMS database by January 1, 2020. Children’s television programming aired on or after the September 16, 2019 effective date of the new rules will be reported by commercial full power and Class A television stations on a broadcaster’s first annual Children’s Report, which will be due no later than January 30, 2020. The FCC’s Media Bureau will issue another public notice announcing the actual effective date of the revised form.
To facilitate the filing of the new annual Children’s Report, after December 17, 2019, LMS will no longer be able to accept new quarterly reports or allow broadcasters to amend previously filed quarterly reports. So any missing reports or amendments to already-filed reports should be made by then. Review your files now, because if you discover the need to amend a report after that date, all you can do is place an explanatory note in your online public file in the Children’s Report section explaining why the FCC filings are incomplete or inaccurate. Of course, that will also necessitate an exhibit in a TV station’s upcoming license renewal application highlighting the mistake.
The Commission also notes that, to the extent necessary, it waives the requirement that broadcasters file a quarterly Children’s Report by January 10, 2020. So be prepared for the transition to the new reporting system for children’s television reports – and be ready to file your annual Children’s Report by the January 30 deadline.
David Oxenford is MAB’s Washington Legal Counsel and provides members with answers to their legal questions with the MAB Legal Hotline. Access information here. (Members only access).
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