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License Renewals Reflect “Timely-Filing” Issues with Public File

- Tripping Up Stations Across the U.S.

Over the course of the year, the FCC has issued fines or entered consent decrees with stations across the U.S. and in Texas, for Station Public Inspection File lapses self-admitted in stations’ license renewal filings.

As attorney David Oxenford of TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer wrote recently,  “The certification of public file compliance is required of every applicant for license renewal,” Oxenford said.

“As with any other certification, a licensee must review its records and truthfully answer the application’s question, either certifying that it has complied with all of the public file obligations or disclosing any deficiencies.”

The two areas cited most often by stations in license renewals are failure to timely file quarterly issues/program lists, or failure to timely upload station online political files.

An Alabama television station was recently fined $9,000 for uploading quarterly issues/program lists more than a year after the upload was due.

The station was tardy more than a day but less than a year in nine other instances.

The fourth quarter issues/programs list report was required to be uploaded earlier this month on Oct. 10.

The next quarterly issues/programs list should be uploaded to station online public files Jan. 10, 2022.

Texas Stations Subject to Consent Decrees
The FCC cited four Texas radio stations last week after each revealed untimely public file uploads in the FCC station license renewal filed earlier this year.

In each case, the station failed to timely upload elements of the political file component of the public file.

The stations were not fined due in part to a lack of “any history of prior offenses by the licensee.”

Instead, the stations in Dallas, El Paso, and Stephenville voluntarily entered consent decrees with the FCC to implement a multi-pronged, comprehensive compliance plan to ensure future compliance with station online public inspection file obligations.

The experience of these stations in Texas and Alabama should be a wake-up call for all broadcasters to put a priority on online public file maintenance.

What now might seem like a minor inconvenience in keeping the file up to date, could prevent a major headache down the road.

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

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