January 30 Deadline!!!

Posted on January 30th, 2019 by

Well That Was Fun!

There is something special about a government shutdown that overlaps filing deadlines for virtually every broadcaster, especially when the one online system needed for those filings is not available (while others are). Yes, we’re talking about the period from January 3rd through 26th when, due to the partial government shutdown, the FCC’s online public file system was not available.

Unless broadcasters scrambled and uploaded quarterly issues/programs lists and other quarterly submissions before OPIF became unavailable, they were stuck without an ability to complete those uploads by January 10th, the normal deadline. Sure, we know that the deadline was initially suspended until the second day after the FCC returned to normal operations (January 29, 2019), and then extended by one more day (to January 30, 2019). But the confusion wrought by the OPIF not being available had already begun.

You may have figured out that we’re a bit perplexed by the FCC’s omission of OPIF as an available system during the shutdown when a number of other FCC databases were available and filings could be made. After all, it is a primary means for the public to reach the broadcasters that serve them, and review how they are being served. Maybe there is some unique issue with the OPIF system that complicates keeping it functional during a shutdown. We’re not sure. But if another shutdown does materialize, we once again vote wholeheartedly for the OPIF to remain accessible to the public and broadcasters.

Just to be clear on the deadlines, every broadcast station required to place a quarterly issues/programs list or other quarterly report in their public file should do so no later than January 30, 2019 in order for that action to be considered as timely completed. No matter when you upload items, always double check the publicly available site to be sure your upload is accessible. There’s nothing quite like finding out — three months later when you’re uploading something new — that a prior upload to your station’s OPIF was not completed. A three-month late filing is an almost certain financial penalty at license renewal time.