It’s time to file your station’s 2021 biennial ownership report.
Every odd-numbered year — we’re looking at you, 2021 — AM and FM radio stations and TV stations are required to file biennial ownership reports with the Federal Communications Commission. The filing window for 2021 opened on Oct. 1 and will run until Dec. 1. All reports must be submitted by that date.
In a public notice, the FCC reminded stations that reporting ownership information is a fundamental obligation of broadcast licensees. “The accurate and timely filing of such information is critical to ensuring that the commission and the public know who owns, operates and controls broadcast stations,” the commission said in a webinar about the filing window. Such ownership information is crucial to understanding the broadcast industry as a whole, the commission said, including tracking the diversity makeup of a station and identifying owners with an ownership stake in multiple stations.
“For several years now, promoting female and minority ownership has been an important goal of the commission,” said Bill Durdach, attorney/advisor for the Media Bureau, in a recent webinar about the filing requirement. “Like any other goal, you can’t advance it if you don’t have accurate data to inform your decisions. This is why [these filings] are so important.”
There are a few important things stations should keep in mind. One, the filing should be a snapshot of what station ownership looked like on Oct. 1 of this year. Two, there are a different forms for commercial and noncommercial stations. Form 323 should be used by commercial stations; Form 323-E should be used by noncommercial stations. Third, AM and FM stations are required to submit an $85 fee.
Keep in mind that two main sets of data should be listed on the form. First, the report must list all stations and licenses to which the ownership report relates. Second, each report must provide key information on the entity and all individual owners, including details like call sign, FRN number, address and a listing of what role an owner has within the station, such as director, limited partner or stockholder.
The webinar created by the commission offers guidance and notes common filing errors that individuals should look out for — such as using an FRN number consistently and remembering to report what the station ownership looked like on Oct. 1, not after that date.
Necessary forms, instructions and other resources can be found on the FCC’s Media Ownership webpage. Stations can also reach out to the commission through a dedicated email address: [email protected].