What Broadcasters Should Expect in the Second Half of 2024

Posted on June 28th, 2024 by

There’s been plenty to write about in the first half of 2024 when it comes to broadcast regulation. From the ordinary to the new, here’s what to look for in the second half of 2024.

On the “ordinary” side, it is quite possible that there will be a scheduled National EAS test this fall where all stations with EAS equipment will need to file one form before the test, and two after the test. An annual test is not mandated but is often scheduled.  Be sure your equipment’s software is up to date.

For all commercial stations, annual regulatory fees will be due in the second half of September. Regulatory fee amounts have been proposed and appear to once again be lower overall. Adoption of the new regulatory fees normally occurs late-August.

There is still a possibility that broadcast stations with five or more full-time employees will have to file the new Form 2100, Schedule 395-B by September 30th reporting on workforce race, gender and ethnicity. The Media Bureau is going to issue a new public notice if that filing becomes necessary. Litigation and form approvals may end up making that announcement impossible, in which case the earliest that stations would have to submit the report would be a year later in September 2025 (see our article elsewhere in this newsletter).

The new form is different from station EEO public file reports, which are still due for stations or station employment units with five or more full-timers on the anniversary of the date the station would file its renewal application.  Forgetting to upload that report to the station public file and on the station website has resulted in large fines, so be vigilant.  Upcoming deadlines for this report vary by state and are covered in our dates to remember at the end of the newsletter.

There are no biennial ownership reports due this fall – those won’t be due until fall of 2025.

On the “new” regulatory horizon, we’re expecting a proposed rulemaking on whether the FCC should require broadcasters to include disclosures in political ads when they contain AI-generated content, teeing up another contested issue for decision. The FCC’s May 22nd news release provided some details.

August 20th will mark the first day that Class A, LPTV and TV Translator Stations can file channel-change major modification applications. Details were announced in late-May.  Channel change applications will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis and will be “cut off” daily for purposes of determining mutual exclusivity.  Working on these applications early is the key to getting filed on the first day.

Late in the year, we may see a Report & Order in the FCC’s rulemaking proceeding to impose new rules or make tweaks to current FCC regulations applicable to Class A and Low Power TV stations. The comment cycle will be complete by late-August (see our article elsewhere in this newsletter).

The FCC’s new recently adopted foreign sponsorship identification rules will likely take effect this fall, unless a further legal challenge prevents the FCC from imposing the new requirements. The new requirements applying the rules to issue advertisements could make life difficult for broadcasters during election season this fall.