Broadcasters need to keep a close eye on when their license comes up for renewal over the next four years. Do you know when your renewal date is? Is your public file up to date? Did you do everything required by law to serve the public?
FCC licenses must be renewed every four years and it’s your responsibility to take care of the renewal with the Commission.
The NRB International Christian Media Convention in Anaheim held a conference on the topic last week with a panel that included attorneys Karyn Ablin of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth in Washington, D.C.; Joseph Chautin of Hardy, Carey, Chautin & Balkin in Mandeville, Louisiana; and David Oxenford of Wilkinson Barker Knauer in Washington, D.C.
According to NRB.org Oxenford told attendees that broadcasters tend to forget about license renewal because “there’s a three-year cycle where stations in certain states file every other month, and it makes its way across the country in a three-year cycle, and then you’ve got five years off before the next set of license renewals are due.”
Radio stations in Maryland, Virginia, D.C., and West Virginia need to file license renewal applications before June 1.
Oxenford said there’s a new wrinkle to keep in mind this year. “The online public inspection file is there for anybody to see anywhere in the country. Five years ago when the last license renewals were filed by stations in Delaware and Pennsylvania, it was a paper public inspection file. Nobody knew unless they physically tromped out to your main studio, went to that dusty filing cabinet in the corner, opened it up, and looked through it to see whether the documents were there. Even then they had no idea when those documents were put in those files, so they could have been put in the day before that person happened to tromp to that dusty filing cabinet in the corner of your main studio.”
Oxenford added that now everything is in the online public inspection file, date stamped as to the day that it was put in that online public inspection file, available by anybody anywhere to look at, available by the FCC folks who will be reviewing your license renewal application, available by anybody from some of the public interest groups in Washington, D.C., whose job it is to … stand up for the public interest by showing when you have not properly done certain things.
Chautin said waiting until the last minute to renew is a bad idea. “Someone calls up and goes, ‘Wait, wait. My license expires on this date, so I’ve been waiting to file my license renewal application when it gets close to that date.’ Well, I’m here to tell you that’s bad, very bad.”
Read more about this topic HERE