More on the FCC Rule Changes on Public Notice of Broadcast Applications and Required New Link on Station Homepages
Last week we wrote about the October 30 effective date of new FCC rule changes on the public notice requirements for certain broadcast applications, including applications for the assignment of license or transfer of control of a station and applications for renewal of license. On Friday, the FCC’s Media Bureau released a Public Notice clarifying certain aspects of the new rule. First, the Public Notice makes clear that applicants who already have applications pending should use the public notice rules that were in effect on the date of the acceptance for filing of their applications (generally just a few days after the application’s filing). For instance, radio stations who timely filed renewal of license applications on October 1 (those in Iowa and Missouri), and TV stations who filed for renewal that same date (those in Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands), will continue with post-filing announcements under the schedule that was in place prior to the effective date of the new rules. Applications filed on December 1 will use the new rules requiring post-filing announcements in the 30 days after the acceptance of the renewal applications rather than those spaced out over 3 months.
As all commercial stations need to “include a conspicuous link or tab labeled ‘FCC Applications’ on the station website or an applicant-affiliated website to the extent that such a website exists,” and at that link either include the text of the public notice that is running on the air or a statement that no such applications are pending, the Media Bureau provided guidance as to when that link needs to be added to the station’s website. The FCC said that stations should “act expeditiously” to add such a link to their site and, if they are planning to file any application needing public notice, they must include that link now. Note that noncommercial stations do not need this permanent link on their websites unless their stations are off the air because of school recesses or holidays or for other reasons when the public notice announcements would otherwise be broadcast, in which case they do need to provide this online public notice. Commercial stations will need both the online public notice and notice though over-the-air broadcasts. So commercial stations should be adding that permanent link to an applications page as soon as they can. In addition to our article you can read the entire FCC order on these new public notice requirements, adopted earlier this year, here.