The FCC has decided to
suspend filing of its revised media ownership form (323) until further notice.
The commission is collecting
more information on the form partly as a way to better track minority ownership
by requiring owners of smaller stakes in broadcast properties to report them.
In a decision issued today
(Dec. 23), the commission said that the Jan. 11 filing deadline would be
suspended, and that even when the online form wa available again (it had been
online since Dec. 9), it would give broadcasters another 90 days from that date
to file the forms.
The information will still
have to be current as of Nov. 1, 2009.
The commission was
responding to a Dec. 18 request from broadcasters who asked for the extension
as well as changes to the form.
The FCC two weeks ago
delayed the date for turning in the form from Dec. 15 to Jan. 11, saying the
online form was not quite ready. But it has also received a petition to delay
the date from law firm Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth, which argued that the
form was changed without sufficient notice, and that the requirement for owners
of virtually any size stake in a broadcast property to provide those Social
Security numbers raised privacy issues. The FCC said the delay was procedural
and did not address that petition in its announcement of the extension.
In its public notice
announcing the Dec. 9 date, the FCC also said that it is allowing filers to use
a Special Use FRN (FCC Registration Number) instead of a Social Security
number, but made clear it was a temporary fix and that it expected eventually
to get an SSN from them.
Now, the FCC has decided to
take a longer look at fixes to the form.
"We find that good
cause has been shown and that it would serve the public interest to suspend the
current January 11, 2010 filing deadline," the commission said Wednesday.
"We will temporarily suspend the ability to start a new biennial Form 323
during this interim suspension period but will allow filers to complete and
file forms that they have already started should they wish to do so. This
temporary suspension will permit us to investigate what changes can be made to
the form to reduce the time required to complete it and to lessen any
unanticipated burdens in this regard without undermining the completeness,
quality, usefulness, and aggregability of the data. Once these changes
have been made, we will again enable new biennial filings and will release a
Public Notice with a new extended filing deadline. "
The FCC has decided to