The Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Media Bureau recently issued a public notice reminding commercial and noncommercial broadcasters of their obligation to file their 2021 biennial ownership reports on FCC Form 323 or 323-E, respectively. In the notice, the FCC stated that it intends to take enforcement actions against stations that fail to file timely, complete reports. The window for filing ownership reports opened on October 1, 2021, and all reports must be submitted by December 1, 2021. To assist broadcasters, the Media Bureau recently hosted a public information session where FCC staff presented an overview of the reporting forms and addressed questions from online attendees. A recording of the information session also is available on the FCC’s events page.
Ensuring that your station’s biennial ownership report is timely filed takes on added importance during the license renewal cycle. Stations must certify on their renewal applications that they have filed their biennial reports as required by the Commission’s rules or disclose violations. Failing to file ownership reports on time can raise issues for stations during the license renewal process, including potential processing delays. Earlier this year, the FCC reminded broadcasters that, as part of FCC review of license renewal applications, staff will be reviewing whether licensees have filed their 2019 and 2021 biennial ownership reports and whether they have certified truthfully concerning compliance with the filing requirement. In addition to taking enforcement actions against broadcasters that fail to file timely and complete biennial ownership reports, the FCC may take additional actions against any broadcaster that makes a false certification on its renewal application regarding the filing of the reports.
The FCC regards reporting ownership information as a fundamental obligation of broadcast licensees. NAB urges broadcasters to timely file their reports. For further information about biennial ownership reports, please visit the Media Bureau’s Form 323/323-E website, which has links to forms and instructions, FAQs, and information sessions. If you have questions, please contact your station’s legal counsel.
Additional information from the NAB:
“FCC data shows that over 1,300 stations failed to file their biennial reports in 2019. While a handful of full power television and Class A stations failed to file, hundreds of low power television (LPTV), commercial and noncommercial FM stations, and commercial AM stations neglected to file their reports. Many more stations (approximately 1,800) filed incomplete reports. To date, the FCC has not taken any enforcement action against these stations, but given the number of reports that were not filed, NAB is concerned about a potential uptick in enforcement in this area.”