License Renewal Window Opens May 2

Stations must certify no ad discrimination, RF compliance in license renewals
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Stations must certify no ad discrimination, RF compliance in license renewals

Radio and television station owners in the District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia get to be the first to use the FCC’s new license renewal application. Their one-month filing window opens May 2 and closes June 1.

Each AM, FM, non-commercial educational FM, FM translator and low-power FM station must electronically file Form 303-S.

There are four significant changes in the form.

*Commercial radio and television stations must certify that their advertising sales agreements do not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity and that all such agreements contain nondiscrimination clauses. Prohibited discriminatory practices include “no urban/no Spanish” dictates in which an ad buy specifically excludes those programming demos.

*The licensee must certify that the station has not been off the air or operating for less than its prescribed minimum operating hours for 30 days or more during the last license term, or, if true, explain why.

*Previously, AM and FM licensees had to submit an exhibit or a worksheet to demonstrate compliance with the commission’s maximum permissible RF exposure limits. Now, the exhibit/worksheet is being replaced for all AMs and FMs with a certification stating that the station’s RF environment has had “no material change” since the station last had its license renewed or after its initial license application was granted. Either an exhibit or a worksheet demonstrating compliance with RF exposure rules is required for stations that have had a material change in their RF environment.

*The licensee must certify that neither it nor any party to the application has an attributable interest in a newspaper that would trigger the cross-ownership restrictions, or, if it does, provide an explanation. The exhibit is required whether the FCC previously approved the cross-ownership interest or the interest is one that has been acquired without agency approval, such as a radio station licensee acquiring an interest in a local daily newspaper after the station’s last license renewal was granted.

The FCC says it will implement a way for licensees to access the revised form through the agency’s electronic database system before May 2.

Each AM, FM and NCE FM station, regardless of how many full-time staff it employs, must file FCC Form 396, the Broadcast Equal Employment Opportunity Program Report. NCE licensees also must file Form 323-E, the Ownership Report for Noncommercial Broadcast Stations.

The Media Bureau will not mail postcard notices to licensees, though it will send courtesy e-mail notices if it has a valid address; the Media Bureau reminds station owners the base fine for an AM or FM commercial and non-commercial station filing late is $3,000.

The commission posted more information (PDF), including links to the electronic filing system and a help file.