As predicted: FCC extends ownership filing


The corner of the broadcast community that is going to be tasked with filling out the FCC’s new Commercial Broadcast Ownership Report Form 323 can take a breath – its due date has been extended almost a month, from 12/15/09 to 1/11/10.

This is not only welcome news, it is virtually inevitable news, since the new forms – originally scheduled for release 11/16/09 — are still not ready to go. The FCC says it is “…in the process of conducting final testing of the form and has delayed the release of the electronic version until the testing is complete.”

The FCC said it is aware that many licensees have already returned the old obsolete version of Form 323, and noted that these licensees will have to refile once the new version is available.

The release does not address the issue of whether filers will have to provide the FCC with social security numbers (SSN) or tax identification numbers (TIN) to get the necessary FRN, or FCC Registration Number required of all broadcast license stakeholders. However, under frequently asked questions, the FCC still says that an SSN or TIN is needed, with the following explanation:

“Yes. The FRN allows the Commission to verify the identity of persons and entities doing business with the Commission without requiring them to provide their personal ID numbers (such as SSNs or TINs) every time a form is filed with the Commission. However, in order to provide you with a number that can be used in lieu of providing a sensitive SSN or TIN on each form, the Commission must collect your SSN or TIN at the registration stage.

“Form 323 does not collect Social Security Numbers or Taxpayer ID Numbers, and you should never list such numbers on your biennial ownership report.

“While it may be convenient in some cases to allow your legal counsel or company to obtain an FRN on your behalf, it is not necessary for you to do so. If you would prefer to obtain your own FRN in the privacy of your own home and then provide the FRN to the person preparing your company’s biennial ownership report, you may certainly do so.”