License Renewals: FCC Imposing Consent Decrees for late Political Filings

As we have noted on a number of occasions, stations must keep their online political files up to date. It appears that the FCC continues to require stations with late political files to enter a consent decree. When issuing consent decrees the FCC notes:

“Section 73.1943(a) of the Commission’s Rules requires stations to maintain and make available for public inspection information about all requests for broadcast time made by or on behalf of candidates for public office, and section 73.1943(c) requires stations to upload such information to their online political files ‘as soon as possible,’ meaning ‘immediately absent unusual circumstances.'”

It is crucial that stations maintain political files that are complete and up-to-date because the information in them directly affects the statutory rights of opposing candidates to request equal opportunities pursuant to section 315(a) of the Act and present their positions to the public before an election, among several other things. Additionally, the Commission has stated that “the disclosures included in the political file further the First Amendment’s goal of an informed electorate that is able to evaluate the validity of messages and hold accountable the interests that disseminate political advocacy.”

Stations that had “late” political file uploads are being reviewed by the FCC. As a result, some New York radio stations may not have received their license renewal notices. If you have issues with your online political files, you need to fix the issue.

Television renewal applications are due next year. Now is the time to review your political file procedures.

An example of an FCC Consent decree can be found here.