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TAB’s Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program celebrates 20 years of station reviews

For two decades TAB has offered Texas radio and stations the unique opportunity to go through a mock FCC-style inspection with the potential prize being a three-year waiver from routine or surprise FCC inspection.

It’s called the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program, or ABIP for short.

TAB-contracted station inspectors, a mix of broadcast engineering veterans and retired FCC field agents, reviews stations for compliance with FCC regulations using the FCC's self-inspection checklists as a guide.

TAB inspectors issue the station an inspection report documenting the station’s FCC compliance review.

Compliant stations receive the three-year waiver in the form of a Certificate of Compliance.

While many stations pass the inspection with flying colors, stations that are found to have deficiencies may correct them within a reasonable timeframe and still garner one of the coveted certificates.

TAB and the other state broadcast associations reached an agreement with the FCC in the 1990’s to create the program.

The ABIP’s goal is to promote and ensure station compliance with the FCC’s regulations.

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

That’s because it’s better for TAB to find problems, than for an unannounced FCC field agent to do so.

An errant station will get a compliance action item list in the TAB inspection report and time to correct the deficiencies.

A standard FCC visit would likely result in fines.

TAB keeps the inspection fees low so stations can take advantage of this tremendous member service, but after all, the benefit of peace of mind is priceless.

TAB launched its ABIP in early 1997 with four inspectors, one of whom, Dick Pickens of TAB Associate Member Microcom Systems, is still doing station reviews.

Pickens, a 60+ year broadcast veteran and his wife Nancy, Microcom’s resident Public File specialist, have logged tens of thousands of miles over the past 20 years reviewing hundreds of stations – many of them multiple times.

Another original ABIP inspector, longtime Austin broadcast engineer Wayne Hardin, moved out of state several years ago. 

TAB’s original ABIP team also included two retired FCC field agents in the Houston area, Dick Vaughan and Allen Cantrell.

Vaughan died several years ago and Cantrell passed away last March.

Cantrell’s family was quick to note in his obituary how much he enjoyed traveling Texas to perform station inspections.

Indeed all of the TAB ABIP inspectors, past and present, truly love their work.

It has been an opportunity for them to use their many years of experience in broadcast technology to benefit stations and the industry.

TAB was fortunate to have had the expertise and dedication of the original crew of four inspectors in launching the ABIP and to still have Pickens’ leadership in the program today.

Four other talented and experienced ABIP inspectors have since come onboard to take the place of Cantrell, Hardin and Vaughan:

Wayne Kube

  • 30+ years in broadcasting
  • Former Engineering Manager, Director of Technology at Belo Corporation
  • Owner of Kube Broadcast Consulting, Inc., a broadcast consulting firm

Carl Pyron

  • Retired FCC Field Agent
  • Former FCC District and Regional Director
  • 38 years of FCC service

Steve Sandlin

  • 40+ years in broadcasting
  • Former Chief Engineer, Texas radio and TV stations
  • Professional Broadcast Engineer, SBE lifetime certification

A. "Ray" Turner

  • Retired FCC Field Agent
  • 42 years of FCC service
  • Owner of Turner Communications Consulting, a broadcast consulting firm

TAB’s current team of five ABIP inspectors perform thorough, exacting station reviews.

A station that receives such a report receives either a clean bill of health or a list of deficiency action items that must be addressed if the station wants to avoid a potential FCC fine.

As it turns out, there are a number of common deficiencies that TAB’s inspectors have seen in the field.

Interested in getting a station inspection?

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

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