FCC Eliminates Broadcast EEO Mid-Term Report Filings
|RADIO ONLINE | Thursday, February 14, 2019|
The FCC has voted to eliminate the Broadcast Mid-Term Report (Form 397) filing requirement, concluding that this paperwork has become redundant and unnecessary. The Commission has used Form 397 in its mid-term reviews of broadcasters' equal employment opportunity practices. But because almost all of the information collected in Form 397 is now available in broadcasters' online public inspection files, and the remaining piece of information will be available there before the use of Form 397 is eliminated, the Commission has found that the requirement for broadcasters to file Form 397 is outdated and unnecessary.
The FCC has also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking aimed at streamlining and improving the rules and procedures for processing and licensing competing applications for new noncommercial educational (NCE) broadcast and low power FM (LPFM) stations. Mutually exclusive (MX) applications for new NCE and LPFM stations are currently resolved by applying comparative procedures that include a point system for selecting among MX applications.
The current NCE and LPFM procedures have facilitated the grant of several thousand new station construction permits. But some of these regulations are unnecessarily complex and have caused problems for applicants seeking in good faith to comply with them. Based on experience gained from past filing windows, the NPRM seeks to clarify, simplify, and improve the agency's selection and licensing procedures and thus expedite the initiation of new service to the public.
Among other things, the NPRM tentatively proposes to:
- Eliminate the current requirement that NCE applicants amend their governing documents to pledge that localism/diversity be maintained in order to receive points as "established local applicants" and for "diversity of ownership"
- Improve the NCE tie-breaker process and reduce the need for mandatory time-sharing
- Clarify aspects of the "holding period" rule by which NCE permittees must maintain the characteristics for which they received comparative preferences and points
- Reclassify as "minor" gradual changes in governing boards with respect to non-stock and membership LPFM and NCE applicants
- Extend the LPFM construction period from 18-months to a full three years
- Allow the assignment/transfer of LPFM construction permits after an 18-month holding period and eliminate the three-year holding period on assigning LPFM licenses.