Mid-Term EEO Form 397 Filings Begin

Posted on June 1st, 2015 by

Whether it is random EEO audits or annual EEO public file reports, the FCC’s EEO documentation and filing obligations never seem to end.  Certain stations can now add an old friend to the EEO to-do list – the Form 397.

First, the good news.  Not all broadcast stations have to file the form, though in the form instructions, all stations are given the “option” of submitting one anyway even if they don’t meet the criteria for doing so.  That’s nice.  But we digress.  Radio stations that are part of station employment units (SEUs) with 10 or more full-time employees, or a TV station that is part of an SEU with 5 or more full-time employees, are required to file the Form 397.

An SEU is a station or group of commonly owned stations in the same market that share at least one employee.  A full-time employee is one that permanently works 30 hours or more per week.  All stations in the SEU must be listed in the Form 397.

Stations that must file the Form 397 also have the privilege of attaching their two most recent EEO annual public file reports.  Those reports are prepared annually (on the anniversary date of the license renewal application filing deadline) and placed in a station’s public inspection file and on the station’s website.

So when is the Form 397 due?  The answer isn’t an easy one.  But the title of the form – Broadcast Mid-Term Report – gives a clue.  The form must be filed on the 4-year anniversary of a station’s last license renewal application filing deadline.  The first stations to file will be radio stations in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia whose filing deadline is June 1, 2015, four years from the June 1, 2011 deadline for filing for their last license renewal.  Stations in SEUs must file Form 397, on a rolling basis going forward, on the 4-year anniversary of their most recent license renewal application filing deadline.

Confused?  Watch our newsletter “Dates to Remember” for reminders.