Broadcast Station Local Public Notice Rule Changes Now Effective

Posted on October 30th, 2020 by

The FCC’s recently adopted Order substantially revising the broadcast local public notice rule became effective on October 30, 2020 with its publication in the Federal Register.  The new rule permanently eliminated the need to publish any newspaper notices about filed applications, which were costly and more difficult to accomplish as newspapers folded.  Stations will now publish such notices online, using a station or substitute website with a conspicuous link and text that includes a hyperlink to the filed application.

Beginning October 30, 2020, commercial broadcast stations will need to establish and maintain a permanent website link dedicated to online public notices.  When a station must post an application online notice, the notice must appear at the link.  When there are no pending applications for which online public notice is required, the link must state so and include the date the page was last updated.  If your commercial station has not already taken care of this, it is time to call the website master and get it done.

Another important change with the new rule relates to on-air announcements.  The days, times, and text of those announcements are now standardized.  Under the new rule, any application requiring an on-air announcement must (i) begin within five (5) business days after the FCC’s public notice that the application has been accepted for filing, (ii) air between 7 am and 11 pm, Monday-Friday, and at least six (6) times over a four (4) week period, with at least one (1), but no more than two (2), announcements per week, and (iii) in the weeks with two (2) announcements, the announcement must be aired on different days.  Yes, we know, it makes our head hurt too.

If your station has a pending license renewal application, you should continue airing post-filing renewal announcements in the manner in which you began doing so.  But for those with upcoming license renewal applications due December 1, the new rule will apply to your post-filing announcements.  Consult counsel or the new rule language to be sure you complete those announcements using the new rule and certify them properly.