An Ownership Report RUFRN Reset

Posted on February 24th, 2017 by

Last month, we reported that in the final days of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s stint at the FCC, the Media Bureau decided to act upon a petition for reconsideration of a requirement that all individuals included in ownership reporting – even for non-commercial station non-profit board members – obtain a restricted use FCC registration number (RUFRN) so the FCC could track ownership trends. The Media Bureau, under then Chairman Wheeler’s administration, denied the petition, leaving the requirement in place.

Then Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly objected loudly, expressing doubt as to the need for the RUFRN for non-commercial station board members, citing it as burdensome. True to his word, new Chairman Pai apparently had a chat with the new chief of the Media Bureau, and the Bureau issued a February 2, 2017 Order rescinding the Bureau’s earlier decision. In doing so, it concluded that the petitions for reconsideration “are more appropriately handled at the Commission level.” The petitions were returned to pending status.

Although the issue has not yet been placed on any agenda or an order otherwise circulated, we expect that it will be soon. The RUFRN issue needs a resolution quickly to avoid delays as ownership reporting transitions to a new form and online system later this year.