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Ensuring FCC Compliance – How TAB’s Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program Benefits A Station

How sure are you that your station and its operations are in compliance with the myriad of FCC regulations?

There’s one economical way to find out – participate in TAB’s Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program (ABIP).

Now in its 25th year of operation, TAB’s ABIP began operations after TAB and other state broadcast associations negotiated an agreement with the FCC to help reduce strain on FCC resources, while achieving station compliance with FCC regulations through a private/public partnership.  

In the decades that have followed, TAB's inspectors have reviewed hundreds of Texas stations for compliance with FCC regulations using the FCC's self-inspection checklists as a guide. 

Compliant stations receive a three-year waiver from a routine, surprise FCC inspection of a station’s physical facilities. 

The reviews cover most, but not all, FCC regulations as they pertain to a station’s onsite facilities, from studio to transmitter site. 

The FCC may still inspect an ABIP reviewed station for the following reasons: 

  • Reviewing tower safety issues
  • Investigating complaints received
  • Reviewing materials required to be in the station's public file such as the political or EEO file, or other public file components

TAB’s intrepid team of ABIP inspectors has logged thousands of miles reviewing Texas stations since 1997, with each review generating a confidential inspection report documenting the station’s FCC compliance and the results of the TAB inspector’s review. 

TAB’s ABIP inspectors are broadcast engineering veterans Wayne Kube and Steve Sandlin, who have nearly 80 years of broadcasting experience between them.

Sadly, TAB’s ABIP inspector emeritus Dick Pickens passed away earlier this year.

Pickens was one of the program’s original four inspectors.

ABIP reviews include an inspection of the physical facilities of the main studios and transmitter site, as well as a review of certain station procedures.

Typically, it takes about 3-4 hours to review one station, and less time to review others located under the same roof.

Stations that successfully complete a review earn a three-year waiver from routine, surprise FCC inspections of a station’s physical facilities. 

The waiver comes in the form of a Certificate of Compliance which is typically posted in the lobby of the station.

While many stations pass the inspection without issue, those stations that have deficiencies related to their physical facilities may correct them within a reasonable timeframe and still garner one of the coveted certificates. 

Stations that have undergone an ABIP review very quickly realize the value of getting a third-party to search for any FCC regulatory deficiencies. 

It is far less expensive if TAB finds a problem and it is addressed, than if the FCC finds the problem during a surprise inspection. 

FCC forfeitures typically start at the $4,000 level and rise steadily from there.
Additionally, stations have used TAB’s inspection reports as justification for capital outlays in discussions with corporate management. 

Interested in getting a station inspection?

Learn more about what is involved in TAB’s ABIP station review and download the TAB ABIP contract here.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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