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Is an FCC Station Public Inspection File Crackdown Coming?

- Check Status Now; File ETRS Form 3 by Nov. 19

Believe it or not, several Radio stations missed this year’s March 1 deadline to migrate their Public Inspection File to the FCC’s online database and have yet to activate the station’s online file.  The FCC announced late last week that it will activate all remaining station public inspection files this Thursday, Nov. 15.

The FCC will likely view harshly (in the license renewal process), those stations that have not activated the online station Public Inspection File by this Thursday.  Scott Flick, an attorney with TAB’s FCC legal counsel Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said the FCC’s reminder could also be read as a warning.  “Theoretically any document missing from a public file, from a contour map to a political file, could result in a fine of $10,000 or more,” Flick said in an interview with Inside Radio.  “Because the public inspection file is now easier to access by any regulator working in Washington, stations need to ensure their public inspection file is complete.”

In a TAB webinar in late 2017, Flick noted the FCC was expected to be more marsh with violation fines in an era of broadcast deregulation.  TAB is urging stations to check the station’s Public Inspection File as a precaution.

Pillsbury’s station Public Inspection File advisory is a helpful tool to ensure compliance, as is a review of the TAB public file webinar noted above.  The FCC’s station self-inspection checklists also provide some direction as to what needs to be in the file.

Another tool at stations’ disposal to review this area of station operations, and many others?  The TAB Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program, or ABIP. TAB inspectors review the station Public Inspection File as part of the review, but also review a station’s physical plant, transmitter site and other types of FCC recordkeeping to ascertain compliance with the FCC’s rules.

One other important FCC note for the coming days:  FCC ETRS Form III, the final follow-up report from October’s nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, is due on Monday, Nov. 19.

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

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