Political File Compliance Remains A Hot-Button Issue

Posted on August 31st, 2020 by

Since our article in last month’s newsletter about the FCC’s new enforcement actions for political file non-compliance in connection with license renewal, at least another 30-40 station owners have entered into consent decrees that require future reporting but do not assess monetary forfeitures.  While some of the latest consent decrees contain some nuances (such as allowing stations to adopt compliance manuals from national broadcast organizations), the scope and reporting requirements remain the same.  Signing a consent decree results in the pending license renewal application being granted, barring other issues with the renewal application.

It is our understanding that a de minimis amount of political file non-compliance may provide an “escape” from having to either sign a consent decree or elect a monetary forfeiture route, but we urge all stations to pay particular attention to political file compliance.  As we mentioned last month, the time of a political file uploads is critical. The information should be uploaded as soon as requests are made/orders placed or a use is made of the station. The rule says “as soon as possible” and defines that as “immediately absent unusual circumstances.”  The FCC is interpreting that to mean within 24 hours.

While we’re on the subject of political file compliance, don’t forget that September 4, 2020 marks the opening of the 60-day lowest unit rate period for the November 3, 2020 general election.  Also, remember that lowest unit rates apply to political candidates, but not to political action committees or non-candidate interest group ads.

If you have questions about station political ad or public file requirements, we are available to assist.