If not addressed in the FAQs, please submit your detailed question to Form323@fcc.gov.
The FAQs are organized under the following sub-headings. Click on a sub-heading to scroll down immediately to the FAQs that relate to that particular sub-heading.
A. General Information
B. Copying and Other CDBS Functions
C. FRN and Special Use FRN Questions
D. Completing the Form 323
Q: When is the biennial ownership report filing deadline?
A: The extended filing deadline is December 2, 2015, and information on the form must be current as of October 1, 2015. Filers may submit the Biennial Form 323 anytime between October 1 and December 2, 2015, but are encouraged to file early.
The Media Bureau, on its own motion, extended the November 2, 2015, filing deadline until December 2, 2015. Please note that the extension applies only to the 2015 biennial filing requirement. See Promoting Diversification in the Broadcasting Services, MB Docket No. 07-294, Order, DA 15-890 (MB, rel. Aug. 6, 2015).
Q: Who must file a biennial ownership report on Form 323?
A: All persons or entities that hold broadcast licenses (not merely initial permits) for commercial AM, FM, full-power TV stations, as well as Class A TV and Low Power TV stations (“Licensees”) must file an ownership report on Form 323 every two years. In addition, where the organizational structure of a Licensee includes holding companies or other forms of indirect ownership, each entity in that organizational chain that holds an attributable interest in the Licensee for which the Report is being submitted must file a separate ownership report. For further details, see the instructions to Form 323.
The Commission’s attribution rules are located at 47 C.F.R. Section 73.3555 and the notes to Section 73.3555, as revised and explained in Review of the Commission’s Regulations Governing Attribution of Broadcast and Cable/MDS Interests, 14 FCC Rcd 12559 (1999), recon. granted in part, 16 FCC Rcd 1097 (2000). See also Report and Order in MM Docket No. 83-46, 97 FCC 2d 997 (1984), recon. granted in part, 58 RR 2d 604 (1985), further modified on recon., 61 RR 2d 739 (1986).
Q: What about individual officers/directors or other stock/interest holders in my company? Do individual people who aren’t Licensees, but have attributable interests in commercial broadcast stations, have to file a biennial ownership report for themselves?
A: No. Individual persons must be reported on the reports for the organizations in which they have an attributable interest (e.g., because they are an officer/director or own stock/shares in the organization) and must not file Form 323 separately. (The only exception is in the case of sole proprietor Licensees, who file for themselves as Licensees.)
For example, if you are an officer in a corporate parent company that has an attributable interest in a Licensee, your company files Form 323 and reports on that form itself, its ownership interests, and you (as an officer in the company). You should not file a separate Form 323 to report your interest in the parent if you are an individual. Similarly, a partnership organization would file for the organization, with the report listing the partners in the partnership—but the individual partners (non-entity partners) would not file separate Form 323 biennial ownership reports.
Q: Do non-commercial educational (NCE) broadcasters have to use Form 323 for their biennial ownership reports?
A: No. NCE broadcasters file biennial reports on Form 323-E, which is a completely separate form. NCE licensees must file Form 323-E by the anniversary date of the station's renewal application filing date and every two years.
Q: How does the 2015 biennial filing requirement apply to stations that were assigned or transferred after October 1, 2015, but on or before December 2, 2015?
A: For any assignment or transfer of control application that is granted after October 1, 2015, but on or before December 2, 2015, the Commission will include as a condition of grant of the application that the proposed assignor/transferor must file Form 323 either: (A) on or before consummation of the assignment/transfer; OR (B) by December 2, 2015, whichever is earlier. Ownership information should be reported as of October 1, 2015.
B. Copying and Other CDBS Functions
Q: How do I get the correct names and addresses for the Respondent and the Contact Representative to appear in Section 1 of Form 323?
A: To ensure that the correct information for the Respondent and the Contact Representative appears on the form, select the “Account Maintenance” button. If you want to review/correct the information for the Respondent, select “Licensee Applicant” in the “Account Type” box. Select “Contact Rep” if you want to review/correct the information for the Contact Representative. If any of the information listed in the next screen is not correct, modify as needed and then click “Update the Account.” After verifying or revising the information in Account Maintenance, you may begin completing the biennial Ownership Report.
CAUTION: When you launch a new ownership report, the information in Account Maintenance will pre-fill into Section 1, General Information of the new report, and you will not be able to change it. For this reason, you should always review the information in Account Maintenance and make any necessary changes before starting a new Form 323.
Q: How do I copy the data from a previously filed ownership report?
A: Copying data from a previous ownership report can greatly reduce the burden of filing multiple forms that contain the same information. It should also reduce the incidence of data entry errors. Note, however, you can only copy information from a filing that was prepared on a version of Form 323 that was effective on or after April 9, 2010.
There are two ways to copy and transfer data. First, you can copy a form that has already been filed with the Commission. Second, you can copy a form you have saved in your CDBS filing account. For entities with ownership structures that share personnel among multiple sister-company subsidiaries, it may be advantageous to fill out a Form 323 for one company in the chain of ownership and then use that company’s filed form as the template for multiple other forms that will report similar information.
Copying from a Filing That Has Already Been Submitted to the Commission:
The CDBS system allows users to copy from a previous filing on the revised Form 323 and then edit the imported information as necessary. To copy a report, you will need the FCC File Number (found in the top-right hand corner of the completed, printed form).
First, complete the pre-form page for Form 323 and select the “Prefill from earlier filing” option and enter the file number of the previously-filed ownership report in the space provided. Entering the file number ensures that data transferred to the 2015 biennial Ownership Report is from the Form 323 from which you intend to copy and not from another ownership report filed for the facility. After you hit “Enter,” your copied data will appear in a new Form 323. You can save this new filing and then revise the information appearing in the form as necessary. You will also be required to provide a response to the fee question, insert the “As of” date, complete the certification and validate the form before it can be filed.
Copying from a Saved Form in Your CDBS Account:
You also can select a form from your CDBS account menu, regardless of whether it has been submitted to the Commission, and hit the “Copy Form” button at the bottom of your screen to make a duplicate copy. After you hit “Enter,” your copied data will appear in a new Form 323, which you can save and revise as discussed above.
CAUTION: Carefully review your newly-created Form 323 before filing to verify all required information is included and accurate. We strongly recommend that filers review the Most Common Form 323 Filing Errors page before filing the form.
Q: What if the form I want to copy was prepared by a different entity in my corporate organization, using its own CDBS account? Can I copy it and use it to pre-fill a form on my own CDBS account?
A: Yes. If the form has already been filed with the FCC, you can copy the information from any report filed on the revised Form 323, regardless of who filed it. All you need in order to copy the report is the FCC File Number (found in the top-right hand corner of the completed, printed form). On the pre-form questions in CDBS, select the option to “copy from a previously filed report” and fill in the FCC File Number in the appropriate boxes. Note, however, that you can only copy information from a filing that was prepared on a version of Form 323 that was effective on or after April 9, 2010.
For account security reasons, it is not possible to copy a draft (unfiled) copy of a form that was created in a different CDBS account. However, after the form is filed and receives an FCC File Number, it can be copied using the method described for Copying From a Previous Filing.
Q: How do I use the “Validate and Resubmit” function?
A: The “Validate and Resubmit” function allows a filer with a current and unamended biennial ownership report on file with the Commission that is still accurate and that was filed using a current version of Form 323 to simply re-certify the form and file without the need to copy the form or otherwise re-enter data. To use this function, select “Validation and Resubmission of a previously filed Biennial Report (certifying no change from previous Report)” under “Purpose” in the pre-form. Under Item 4 on the pre-form, select “Prefill from earlier filing” and enter the File Number of the biennial ownership report filed submitted for the 2013 filing period. Filers are reminded to carefully review the form for accuracy before submitting.
C. FRN and Special Use FRN Questions
Q: I am an individual interest holder who will be reported on my company’s biennial Form 323. Do I really have to include a separate FRN for myself?
A: Yes. On the revised Form 323, the FRNs of attributable interest holders, including individuals, must be reported along with the information identifying the interest holder (name, address, type of interest held, demographic information, etc.). You can input either a regular FRN, or you can select the option in Question 3(a) to generate what is called a “Special Use FRN”. (See the additional FAQs below re: “Special Use” FRNs.)
Q: Where do I get an FRN?
A: You can register for an FRN (the “FCC Registration Number,” an identifying number that the Commission issues for use on FCC filings) through the Commission’s CORES system. Visit https://www.fcc.gov/e-file/ and click on the CORES link, or visit CORES directly. Click on the button marked “Register” to obtain a new FRN, or “Update” if you want to update an existing FRN.
Q: I need help locating my CORES FRN and/or password.
A: Contact the CORES Help Desk at 1-877-480-3201, Option 1 or at CORES@fcc.gov for assistance. See below for answers to additional FRN-related questions.
Q: I am an individual interest holder who will be reported on my company’s biennial Form 323. I have heard that in order to get an FRN I have to provide my Social Security Number or Taxpayer ID Number. Is that true?
A: Yes. FRNs allow the Commission to verify the identity of persons and entities doing business with the Commission without requiring them to provide their Social Security Number (“SSN”) or other Taxpayer Identification Number (“TIN”) 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 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 these 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. For registration information, please refer to the question regarding how to obtain a CORES FRN.
Alternatively, Form 323 permits respondents to generate “Special Use” FRNs for use in reporting interests of individual persons solely on Form 323. No Social Security Number is required to generate a “Special Use” FRN. (See the additional FAQs below for more on “Special Use” FRNs.) The guidance provided on Special Use FRNs in the Media Bureau's December 4, 2009 Public Notice (DA 09-2539) has been superseded, as discussed herein.
Q: What if I have more than one FRN on file? Can I use any of them?
A: Yes. You can use any FRN you would like -- as long as you use the same FRN for each ownership report filed in the future. In addition, if your FRN will be disclosed on reports filed by other entities (for example, a Licensee’s FRN that gets reported on each of the reports for its parent company owner and subsidiary holding companies), filers must ensure they are using the same FRN for that entity on all reports.
Q: My ownership structure includes a trust that does not have a taxpayer ID number, and is not required to get one. How do I obtain an FRN for this trust?
A: Trusts that do not have TINs should register for FRNs on the CORES system, and select the exemption marked “Exempted Activities” in the box for exemptions. Fill in the other information boxes and complete the registration to obtain an FRN. Note: as with all other persons/entities, the trust should then use that same FRN for all future filings. For more guidance, please contact the CORES Help Desk.
Q: My ownership structure includes a shareholder who is a citizen of another country and does not have a U.S. taxpayer number. How should she obtain an FRN?
A: She should register for an FRN on the CORES system, and select the exemption marked “Individual is foreign” in the box for exemptions. Fill in the other information boxes and complete the registration to obtain an FRN. Note: as with all other persons/entities, this FRN should be used for this person for all future filings. Foreign entities should select the same exemption option when registering for FRNs. For more guidance, please contact the CORES Help Desk.
Q: I am an attorney completing Form 323 for a client. I have made every attempt to get CORES-based FRNs for all of the officers, directors, and attributable shareholders I need to report, but one of them refuses to get a CORES-based FRN for himself and won’t give me the information I need to obtain one on his behalf. My client may have this individual’s Social Security Number in its files, but doesn’t have permission to use it or give it to me to register an FRN for this individual. What should I do?
A: As a rule, all filers must provide a CORES-based FCC Registration Number (FRN) for all persons and entities reported on Form 323. If, after using diligent and good faith efforts, Respondent is unable to obtain, and/or does not have permission to use, a Social Security Number in order to generate an FRN from CORES for any specific individual whose FRN must be reported on Form 323, the electronic form contains a mechanism for generating an interim “Special Use FRN” solely for the purpose of completing the form. The “Special Use FRN” may be used only to file an ownership report on FCC Form 323 and may not be used for any other purpose at the FCC. Respondents who report a non-SSN based Special Use FRN for such an individual will be deemed fully compliant with the Form 323 filing obligation for purposes of the 323 filing and the lack of SSN-based FRNs in response to Question 3(a) will not subject Respondents to enforcement action.
We remind individuals who must be reported on the form that they have the option of obtaining their own FRN directly from the CORES system, obviating the need to disclose their SSNs to anyone other than the Commission. We encourage individuals to provide FRNs to filers to alleviate any concerns they may have about disclosing their SSNs to filing entities.
Filers are also reminded that Special Use FRNs, like CORES-based FRNs, must be used consistently. If a Special Use FRN was previously reported for an individual and the Respondent is unable to report an FRN on the 2015 biennial ownership report, please use the same Special Use FRN that was previously reported for that individual. If an individual is reported on multiple reports, please coordinate with other Respondents to ensure that the same Special Use FRN for that individual is being reported consistently.
The guidance provided on Special Use FRNs in the Media Bureau's December 4, 2009 Public Notice (DA 09-2539) has been superseded as discussed herein.
Q: Can I use the “Special Use FRN” function on a non-biennial report?
A: Yes. The “Special Use” functionality applies in the same way to both biennial and non-biennial reports. Respondents may generate “Special Use” FRNs for non-biennial reports subject to the same restrictions listed above.
Q: How many “Special Use” FRNs were reported in connection with the 2011 FCC Form 323 biennial ownership filings?
A: The Commission requires that commercial broadcast radio and television Licensees and other entities filing the FCC Form 323, Ownership Report for Commercial Broadcast Station, provide an FCC Registration Number (FRN) generated by the Commission’s Registration System (CORES) (CORES FRN) for attributable individuals or entities reported on Form 323. Users obtain a CORES FRN by submitting their taxpayer identification number, which for entities is generally their employer identification number and for individuals is generally their Social Security Number (SSN). In 2009, the Media Bureau implemented an interim Special Use FRN alternative to obtaining a CORES FRN for individuals holding attributable interests reported on Form 323. The Special Use FRN allows Form 323 filers to obtain an FRN for an individual who must be reported on Form 323 in cases where, after using diligent and good-faith efforts, the filer is unable to obtain, and/or does not have permission to use, the individual’s SSN to generate an FRN for that individual via CORES. Special Use FRNs may only be used for Form 323 and may not be used for any other FCC purpose.
The Special Use FRN is computer generated. A filer presses a button in the online Form 323 to obtain the number from a group of numbers that was set aside by the Commission for this purpose. Special Use FRNs begin with “999” and are, on that basis, distinguishable in CDBS from CORES FRNs. Based on our review of the 2011 biennial ownership filings, a total of 3,326 unique Special Use FRNs were reported. Some Special Use FRNs were used multiple times. Special Use FRNs were included in the 2011 biennial ownership filings in a total of 8,719 instances. Although the Commission’s instructions direct filers to use only one Special Use FRN per individual and not to use the same Special Use FRN for multiple individuals, filers may in fact use multiple Special Use FRNs for the same individual or apply a single Special Use FRN to multiple individuals. Therefore, the number of unique Special Use FRNs reported cannot be relied on to accurately represent the number of unique individuals using Special Use FRNs.
D. Completing the Form 323
Q: My company is a parent company that owns several Licensee companies as subsidiaries. Each Licensee company has several stations. Section I, Question 7 in Part I asks me to list the Licensee and the stations on the report. Can I just put all the Licensees and all their stations into the same report for the parent company?
A: No. Broadcast stations that do not have the same ownership cannot be listed on the same ownership report. In this situation, the parent company owner must file separate forms reporting its ownership of each Licensee company. This is unchanged from the previous requirement.
Q: Do I have to attach a copy of my station’s network affiliation agreement, or any other contracts, to the form?
A: No. Section II-B, Question 1 only requires that Licensees list the contracts that Licensees are required to file with the Commission pursuant to Section 73.3613 of the Commission’s rules and provide the relevant information. Licensees should not attach copies of the agreements to Form 323.
Q: My company is a non-stock LLC. Do I have to complete Section II-B, Question 2, “Capitalization”?
A: No. The “Capitalization” question refers to corporate structures that include stock. If your company is a non-stock entity, select the button marked “Not Applicable.”
Q: Do all parties with an attributable interest in a parent entity have to be reported in response to Section II-B, Question 3(a) on the report for that parent entity?
A: Yes. As a general rule, the response to Section II-B, Question 3(a) on a report for a parent entity should list all persons and/or entities with direct attributable interests in that parent entity. In some cases, however, an attributable interest in a parent entity does not give rise to an attributable interest in the broadcast Licensee. Report only individuals and entities that hold one or more interest(s) in the parent company that are also attributable interest(s) in the Licensee for which the report is being submitted.
Q: My company is a subsidiary of a parent company. I understand that I need to report my own officers and directors in Section II-B, Question 3, and that I need to report the parent company that owns us, but do I have to track down and report the parent company’s officers and directors, too?
A: No. The information about the parent company’s officers and directors will be provided on the separate Form 323 report filed by the parent company.
Q: My company is a parent company that owns several subsidiaries. Do I have to list the subsidiary companies that my company owns in Section II-B, Question 3?
A: No. Section II-B, Question 3 only requires information on entities/persons who have direct attributable interests in the entity filing Form 323. Direct Licensee subsidiaries, or direct subsidiaries with attributable interests in one or more Licensees, are reported in response to Section II-B, Question 4. If you are completing a biennial form for an entity that has such reportable direct subsidiaries, report only the names and FRNs of the subsidiaries in response to Question 4. Only report subsidiaries that have attributable interests in the broadcast Licensee for which the biennial report is being submitted. You do not have to include any subsidiary’s officers/directors or other interest holders—that information will be captured on the subsidiary’s Form 323.
Q: Under the organizational structure of my company, Licensee A, Licensee B and Licensee C are owned by a parent company, Company D. The same group of officers and directors serve as officers and directors of all three Licensee companies. Section II-B, Question 3(c) asks me to list other stations that my company, its officers and directors, or anyone with an attributable interest in my company has in other broadcast stations. Does this mean that on each Licensee’s report, I have to note that the officers/directors serve as officers and directors for the stations of each of the other Licensees in our organization?
A: Yes. This information must be entered separately on each form. If this situation applies to you, it may be advantageous to fill out one form and then copy it (the copying procedures are described above) for the other Licensees that share the same group of officers and directors and then to tailor it to each Licensee’s report.
Spreadsheet Templates: (right-click and save the file)
- BIENNIAL—Newspaper Interests (XML File).
- BIENNIAL—Broadcast Interests (XML File).
- NON-BIENNIAL—Newspaper Interests (XML File).
- NON-BIENNIAL—Broadcast Interests (XML File).
Q: I am filling out a report for a trust entity. Do I have to list the beneficiaries of the trust in response to Section II-B, Question 3(a)?
A: No. Only list the trust itself and the trustee(s) in Question 3(a) on the form.
Q: Can I put my organization’s ownership information on an exhibit and attach it to the form instead of filling in the questions one by one?
A: No. The Commission eliminated the use of exhibits in most cases on Form 323. Information about ownership interests must be entered directly into the data fields on the form.