License Renewal Already?

Posted on November 30th, 2018 by

Our apologies. It is not our intention to create a panic with that headline, but it should get you thinking about the inevitable necessity of renewing your broadcast station’s license, which comes around every eight years.

Starting in 2019, radio stations will begin filing license renewal applications at different times staggered over the next three years. And in 2020, TV stations will start their own staggered three-year cycle of renewals. So, for the next four years, you’re going to read about license renewal an awful lot in this space and others. Helpful trivia – the states are staggered in a clockwise direction beginning with the Mid-Atlantic States, and ending in the northeast.

What radio stations are going to be the guinea pigs for this license renewal cycle? If you answered by identifying those with communities of license in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia, you get an A+. Those radio stations will go first, and must electronically file their license renewal application (Form 303-S) by June 1, 2019.

As you may recall, the required actions for license renewal begin weeks before the filing deadline. For the MD, VA, WV and DC stations that are first up, pre-filing announcements must air and be published beginning April 1, 2019. And although applications will be filed June 1, 2019, license renewal grants won’t be happening for these stations until October 1, 2019.

Is your head spinning yet? Don’t worry, we’ll be in touch with clients as their applicable dates get closer. In the meantime, police your online public file so that it does not create a renewal “wound” for your operating budget once your station’s renewal deadline arrives.

Here’s another note. If you’re thinking of selling or buying a station these days, check to see when the station’s license renewal is scheduled. Typically, once the renewal application filing deadline for a station is 4-6 months away, the FCC will accept but make any grant of a license assignment application contingent upon the grant of the license renewal. So, buy/sell transactions get a bit more complicated and can take a bit longer once license renewal nears.