The FCC recently fined two unrelated stations for violations of Section 73.3526 of the Commission's Rules, also known as the Public Inspection File Rule. The rule requires broadcasters to allow public access to a station's public inspection file during normal business hours, outlines the types of documentation that must be retained in the public inspection file, and the length of time they must be retained. The base fine for violating the Public Inspection File Rule is $10,000.
The first case resulted in an upwardly adjusted fine for a North Carolina AM broadcaster. According to the NAL, Norfolk field agents inspected the station in March 2010. Field agents observed that the most current document in the station's public inspection file was from 2006. The station manager indicated that any subsequent public inspection file documentation was maintained at the licensee's headquarters, approximately 250 miles from the station. Pursuant to Section 503 of the United States Code, the FCC found that since the public inspection file had been out of date for more than three years, the violation warranted a $2,000 upward adjustment, which resulted in a total fine of $12,000.
In the second case, the FCC levied a $10,000 fine against a broadcaster for failure to maintain a complete public inspection file at one of its Pennsylvania stations. While conducting a station inspection, Philadelphia field agents discovered that the station was missing nine quarterly issues/programs lists ("all quarterly issues/programs lists since the station's last renewal grant."), and cited that as the basis for issuing the fine.