Broadcast Station Quarterly Reports Due January 10, 2005
As we approach the end of the fourth quarter of 2004, please remember the quarterly public file and FCC filing obligations applicable to broadcast stations. Specifically, the Issues/Program List discussed below must be completed by all broadcasters, while the children’s programming obligations relate to TV stations only. Additionally, we would be glad to provide information upon request relating to ongoing obligations under the Commission’s EEO and local public inspection file rules.
Issues/programs list (all stations)
All full power TV, Class A TV and radio broadcast stations (except for exempt noncommercial educational broadcast stations) are required to maintain a list of programs “that have provided the station’s most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three month period.” This list is to be put in the station’s local public inspection file by the 10th day following the end of each quarter (i.e., by Jan. 10 for the October-December quarter). The list should include a brief narrative describing the issues given significant treatment by the station and the programming that provided this treatment. The list should include the time, date, duration, and title of each program in which the issue was treated. All issues/programs lists should be retained in the station’s public file until final action on the station’s next license renewal application.
Children's programming (TV only)
A) Compliance with Commercial Limits: By the tenth day following each quarter (i.e., by Jan. 10 for the October-December quarter), every full-power commercial and Class A TV station should place in its local public file records demonstrating compliance with the commercial limits on children’s programming established in the Communications Act and FCC rules. Those limits specify that no commercial television station shall air more than 10.5 minutes of commercial matter per hour during children’s programming on weekends or more than 12 minutes of commercial matter per hour during children’s programming on weekdays. For purposes of this rule, children’s programming refers to programs produced and broadcast primarily for an audience of children 12 years of age and younger. Please note that any commercial matter that relates to the subject of the program in which it appears could turn the entire program into a program length commercial, thereby violating the commercial limits.
B) Children’s TV Programming Reports: Also by the tenth day following each quarter, every full power commercial TV broadcast licensee is required to complete a Children’s Television Programming Report on FCC Form 398, describing efforts made by the licensee to serve the educational and informational needs of children. (This requirement does not apply to Class A TV stations.) This form is required to be filed electronically at the FCC with a copy placed in the station’s local public inspection file as well. The public file copy of this Report must be kept separate from other public file materials. The Report identifies programs specifically designed to serve the educational and informational needs of children and explains how so-called “Core Programming” qualifies as such. To qualify as Core Programming, a program must serve the educational and informational needs of children 16 years of age and under (compare to the commercial limits applicable to programming aimed at children who are 12 or younger), must air between the hours of 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. on a regularly scheduled weekly basis and must be at least 30 minutes long. Any licensee that has aired at least three hours per week of Core Programming, averaged over a six month period, will be deemed to have satisfied its obligations to air such programming, and shall be deemed to have satisfied that requirement in its renewal application. Licensees that do not meet these processing guidelines will be required to demonstrate compliance with the Children’s Television Act prior to grant of their renewal application. These Reports should be kept in the station’s public file until final action on the station’s next license renewal application.
C) Future Rule Changes: As you may have heard, the FCC recently enacted additional children’s programming requirements, primarily relating to digital channels. Most of those changes will go into effect beginning Jan. 1, 2006. However, some changes are scheduled to become effective Feb. 1, 2005, after the filing of the quarterly reports due January 10, 2005 discussed above. These changes, which will apply to both analog and digital channels, include the following:
1) The E/I Symbol: This symbol must be used to identify “core programming” on both analog and digital channels. (Effective date is dependent on OMB approval.)
2) Commercial Limits: Commercial limits will be applied to programming on both analog and digital channels.
3) Display of Web address: Any display of website addresses during programming aimed at children ages 12 and under will be restricted to websites meeting strict criteria limiting or prohibiting commercial content, purposes or links. Please contact us for additional information.
Other requirements, including “core” children’s TV program requirements applicable to digital channels, a more restrictive definition of “commercial matter” and limits on preemption of children’s programming, are scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2006. We will provide more detailed information on these requirements at a later date.
Please contact us if you have questions or desire further information regarding any of the above matters or other FCC related issues.