New Ownership Report Update

Posted on December 28th, 2017 by

Last month, we were on the verge of the new ownership reports becoming available in the License Management System, and the opening of a filing “window” that closes on March 2, 2018 for all broadcast stations (except low power FM stations or FM translator-only licensees) to file biennial ownership reports. We’re now about 30 days into the “window” and thought we’d provide a little commentary.

The new form and system are “smart,” meaning that the software is written around the rule and its requirements. Filing a report for a Class A television station? The system won’t charge you a fee (that’s right, Class A stations are not charged a filing fee for ownership reports; same for LPTV stations). Filing a report for an attributable party that is not a licensee? The form doesn’t ask for contract documents (because such entities don’t have to submit contract information). You get the idea. The smart nature of the form works both ways – it makes filing an accurate report easier, but it is also stubborn when it wants something that is required, like an FRN. No FRN for a reportable individual? Then you can’t complete and file the form.

Our main gripe? All data has to be manually entered for all information in the form, down to addresses and phone numbers – none of it migrated over from the old form in CDBS. That’s labor intensive for every report, but especially for stations with complicated ownership structures. We’ll see how well this all goes, but our little inner voice thinks the FCC might have to extend the March 2, 2018 deadline a wee bit to help everyone get a report on file.