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Note to Broadcasters – Check the FCC Public Inspection File Link on Your Station’s Website

A recent FCC update to its website is causing a headache for broadcasters on station websites. Some stations might not even be aware of the problem, but TAB’s FCC counsel Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman said staff should take the issue seriously.

“The FCC has apparently been doing some technical work on its Public Inspection File database, and somewhere in that process, required that the part of the URL for each station’s Public Inspection File containing a station’s call sign be in capital letters,” said TAB’s FCC counsel Scott Flick.

“So, if the link on your station website to its online Public Inspection File contains — as most URLs do — all lower-case letters, your Public File link is broken.”

Flick notes if one changes the station call sign in the URL to capital letters (“KWTH” rather than “kwth”), “it will magically start working again.”

So why address the link issue if the FCC caused the problem?

Broadcasters are “technically out of compliance with the requirement that they post a link to their online Public Inspection File on their station website,” Flick said.

“With most FCC filings now being done online, application public notices having moved from newspapers to online, and the Public Inspection File now an online database, the Internet has become an essential part of stations’ regulatory compliance obligations. Whether it is posting a link on the station website to your most recent Annual EEO Program Report, posting a link to a pending application, posting your station’s latest contest rules, or timely uploading documents to your Public Inspection and Political Files, broadcasters are increasingly at the mercy of the Internet’s quirks.”

It is unclear when the FCC will, if ever, address the issue internally.

“We have reached out to the FCC to see if whatever system update created this issue can be rolled back, but in the meantime, the simple fix is to update your Public File link to capitalize the station call sign,” Flick said.

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

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