FCC spells relief: 323 delay


All who thought the new enhanced disclosure ownership Form 323 was not ready for primetime, even after the FCC delayed it, can take heart in the fact that it has been delayed indefinitely once again. And there will be plenty of time to submit once it is finalized: the new deadline will be whenever it’s deemed ready plus 90 days.

According to the FCC, counsel for broadcasters upon whom the task of filling out the form has largely fallen are saying they just can’t get it done by 1/11/10 despite their diligent efforts. FCC wrote, “…they note that they have experienced delays in completing the form because of the large amounts of data required to be entered for entities with complex ownership structures and because of technical problems working with the form on CDBS.”

The FCC will suspend the deadline and go back to the drawing board. “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.”

The new deadline will be the date the FCC completes its revision, plus 90 days. Those who have already returned the forms need not do so again, but no new filings will be possible in the interim. The “as of” date for data submitted will remain 11/1/09. Non-biennial Form 323 filings that may be necessary in the normal course of business must still be submitted.

RBR-TVBR observation: Form 323 was subject to concerns about divulging social security numbers. This time, the problems are mechanical. Chalk it up to another example of what happens when noble intentions experience a head-on collision with reality.

Here is the official RBR-TVBR recommendation for the next time a project like this is contemplated. Brainstorm in advance the identities of those entities likely to have the most complex report, the greatest volume of data to deal with, the most complicated structure and the oddest special cases, whatever the regulatory matter that is at hand. Design the form not only with them in mind, but with their input, from the get-go.