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FCC Suspends Form 323 Requirements

WASHINGTON: The broadcast ownership reporting requirements recently beefed up by the FCC won’t be due until November. The commission issued an order on Friday suspending the necessity for any interim filing.

“On our own motion, we are suspending the filing requirement for the existing Form 323 for licensees who would otherwise be required to file between the date of this order and Nov. 1, 2009,” the order states. “We believe that it is in the public interest to relieve filers from the burden of filing the existing Form 323 within the six months prior to the new Nov. 1 filing requirement. On balance, we believe that the burden of requiring licensees and other entities to file twice within a six-month period outweighs the benefit of receiving the ownership information. In addition, a suspension of the filing requirement will not impair our ability to assess the state of minority or female ownership.”

The commission expanded reporting requirements on FCC Form 323 last month by dropping certain exemptions for full-power TV stations and requiring low-power and Class A stations to file the form. Reportable ownership interest is also now required on the form in addition to majority ownership. As of Nov. 1, Form 323 must be filed twice a year.

The commission also has a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to further expand the reporting requirements on Form 323 to include gender, race and ethnic information. The comment and reply period for that NPRM was released Friday as well, with comments due June 29 and replies due July 13. — Deborah D. McAdams