The FCC recently fined a television station $9,000 for public file violations – specifically, for failing to upload issues/programs lists by the quarterly deadlines. The station uploaded five lists over a year late, four lists between one month and one year late, and five lists between one day and one month late.
This is one of several fines the FCC has recently issued to broadcast stations for public file violations. Even costlier fines and sanctions have been handed out in previous years. For example, the FCC fined a Virginia radio station $15,000 and renewed its license for only two years (instead of the usual eight) because the station had failed to upload any issues programs lists for the previous eight years.
The FCC has issued these fines and sanctions as part of its processing of license renewal applications. The FCC thoroughly reviews stations’ public inspection files during the license renewal process.
All commercial and noncommercial licensees are required to prepare issues/programs lists. Each list should detail the programs that provided the station’s most significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three months. The list should include a brief narrative of the issues addressed, along with the date, time, duration, and title of each program.
These fines should serve as a reminder to broadcasters to keep their public files in order. This includes preparing and uploading quarterly issues/programs lists in a timely fashion. Issues/programs lists are due by the tenth day of the month that follows each calendar quarter. For example, first quarter lists are due by April 10. This strict deadline applies even if the date falls on a weekend or holiday.
If you have questions about the issues/programs lists requirement, or online public inspection file compliance in general, please contact any attorney in our office.