FCC Eliminates Station Requirement for Paper Filing of Contracts – Will Rely on On-line Public Inspection File

The FCC found that eliminating the paper filing requirement and relying on the on-line public inspection file will reduce burdens on broadcasters while ensuring that the Commission and the public can obtain relevant information in a timely fashion.  Stations will no longer have to prepare paper copies of Section 73.3613 documents and have them sent to the Commission. The FCC will still have access to Section 73.3613 documents via the on line public inspection file.  Moreover, the Commission will continue to have the ability to obtain unredacted copies of such documents from stations upon request.

Note the change in the rule only eliminates the requirement with respect to paper filings.  Stations are still required to place documents required by Section 73.613 in their on-line public inspection file.

Section 73.3613 of the FCC’s rules applies to the following documents:  network affiliation agreements, articles of incorporation, bylaws, and other documents relating to ownership or control of the licensee or permittee, contracts that relate to management of a station by someone other than a regular employee, officer, or director of the station, or by any person where the contract also provides for both a percentage of profits and sharing in losses, attributable time brokerage agreements (TBAs), and attributable joint sales agreements (JSAs).

Section 73.3613 also requires that the following documents be kept at the station and made available for inspection upon request by the Commission: sub-channel leasing agreements for Subsidiary Communications Authorization operation, franchise/leasing agreements for operation of telecommunications services on the television vertical blanking interval and in the visual signal, time sales contracts with the same sponsor for four or more hours per day, except where the length of the events broadcast is not under control of the station, and contracts with chief operators.

Importantly, stations remain obligated to update their on-line public inspections file contract lists within 30 days of the execution, termination, or amendment of any Section 73.3613 document. The FCC’s decision also applies the redaction rules now allowed for JSA’s and LMA to all Section 73.616 documents. The amended Part 73 redaction rule will explicitly allow limited redaction of all Section 73.3613 documents.

Remember these rules must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget, which examines paperwork rules and burdens.  thus the existing rules will remain in effect until OMB approves them. This could take several months.

To see a copy of the FCC’s decision click HERE.

For an analysis from our friends at the noted DC Law firm of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP click HERE.

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