Giving the industry only a day or so of notice, the FCC’s Media Bureau announced that its Consolidated Database System (CDBS) online filing system, used by broadcasters for decades, will no longer accept filings effective at 5 p.m. Eastern today, Jan. 12.
The agency announced new and apparently transitional procedures for types of filings that are currently submitted in CDBS, ones that cannot yet be entered in the newer Licensing and Management System.
The move is necessary due to what the FCC calls “pressing technical issues that prevent effective use of CDBS going forward and to facilitate the ongoing transition of all filings to the Licensing and Management System.” It did point out that the majority of types of broadcast filings had already migrated off of CDBS.
The new procedures are apparently transitional, but the Media Bureau emphasized that it expects this to be “a permanent sunset of the use of CDBS for Media Bureau filing.”
So for now, effective with today’s sunset of CDBS filings, broadcasters will need to submit those FCC forms not currently accepted in LMS as an attachment in an email in PDF format, according to the announcement, and the FCC staff will have to enter them manually into its system.
The Media Bureau listed the following filings that will be required to be submitted by email to [email protected]:
- AM Application for Construction Permit for Commercial Broadcast Station on Form 301
- AM Application for Construction Permit for Reserved Channel Noncommercial Educational Broadcast Station on Form 340
- AM Applications for Broadcast Station License on Form 302
- Special Temporary Authority (STA) Engineering Requests and Extension of Engineering STA Requests for all audio service stations
- Silent STA / Notification of Suspension/ Resumption of Operations / Extension of Silent STA Requests for all audio service stations
- Change in official mailing address
- AM Digital Notification on Form 335-AM
- All-Digital AM Notification on Form 335-AM
- FM Digital Notification on Form 335-FM
- Amendments to pending applications previously submitted in CDBS
- Pleadings (Petitions to Deny, Informal Objections, Oppositions, Replies, Supplements, Petitions for Reconsideration and Applications for Review) concerning applications submitted through CDBS or using the email procedures outlined in the Public Notice
Note that other filing types that had already transitioned to LMS, including FM and FM NCE applications for CPs, must continue to be submitted using LMS.
Media Bureau staff will be entering all pertinent information from the above types of emailed filings into CDBS, the FCC said. “Since this will be a manual process, it may take 1–2 business days to receive a confirmation of your filing.”
The FCC noted that informal filings, such as requests for Special Temporary Authority or Silent Station Notifications, submitted by letter may still be submitted in PDF or Word format.
The majority of applications and submissions have already transitioned from CDBS to LMS. The FCC launched its e-filing LMS forms system for TV licensees in late 2014. The transition for radio broadcasters began in May 2019 with radio station renewal applications.
The FCC says the public will continue to have access to CDBS for public searches and CDBS data files.
Additional information about the LMS system and which filings are supported by LMS can be found at the Media Bureau’s LMS Help Center.
One leading consultant, Gary Cavell of Cavell Mertz & Associates, told Radio World, “Based upon what the Public Notice outlined, the interim procedure for non-LMS filings should be relatively painless. My only long term concern is having continued access to some of the historical data and filing attachments that were a part of CDBS, but I understand that the FCC is aware of the need.”