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Radio station Online Public File requirement begins June 24

 - TV stations also will use new FCC database

The FCC has set June 24 as the date commercial radio stations in the top 50 markets with five or more full-time employees must start uploading documents to the FCC’s online public file for that radio station.

You can read the FCC’s notice here.   

Any new public file documents created on or after June 24 are to be placed in the online public file. 

Stations have until December 24 to upload existing documents that are already in the station’s paper public file. 

This includes documents like EEO Public Inspection File Reports and Quarterly Issues Programs Lists.

Noncommercial radio licensees in the top 50 markets can wait until March 1, 2018, to do so; that’s the deadline that applies to all radio stations outside those markets.

Radio broadcasters will be using a new FCC database to upload station files called the OPIF (online public inspection file).

Lauren Lynch Flick, an attorney with TAB’s FCC legal counsel Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, said TV broadcasters will transition to the new OPIF starting June 24. 

TV stations have been using the BPIF (broadcast public inspection file) database to upload station files.

“The FCC says it will transition television stations’ existing documents from the BPIF to the OPIF automatically,” Flick said.

Radio and TV stations can try out the new OPIF system here

The commission is expected to announce a date soon for an online public file webinar to cover uploading material to the new database which it says will make it easier to upload.

Attorney David Oxenford with TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer said the FCC’s notice includes a reminder to radio and TV stations to make sure that Joint Sales Agreements are uploaded into the station’s public file by both the broker and the licensee. 

“A recent GAO study study suggested that many TV stations had failed to upload Joint Sales Agreements as required by the rules,” Oxenford said. 

The FCC’s notice also specifically warned stations “that any failure to place required documents in a station’s public inspection file at the appropriate times must be disclosed to the commission in the station’s license renewal application and could be subject to enforcement action.”

Attorney Harry Cole with TAB Associate member law firm Fletcher Heald and Hildreth said the latter admonition will be important to keep in mind going forward, because the OPIF system will reflect when each item is uploaded.

“In other words, even if you don’t narc on yourself in your renewal application, the FCC will have ways of determining whether you were late in uploading many, if not most, documents that need to be in the OPIF,” Cole said.

He recommends stations keep a copy of every filing confirmation of items required to be in the public file by a certain date because occasionally the automatic transfer system from an online filing will fail, in which case it will be helpful to have proof of timely filing.

For more information about the new online public file requirement for radio, and TV stations’ use of the new FCC database to upload public file documents, stations can review three in-depth articles prepared by Cole here, Flick here, and Oxenford here

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

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