The FCC recently fined three radio stations for violations of the public inspection file requirements. In the first case, the FCC fined an Arkansas radio station for failure to maintain a public inspection file. In response to a request made during business hours, the station’s general manager was unable to locate or make available any part of the station’s public inspection file. Ultimately, the general manager was unable to find any evidence that the public inspection file had ever existed at the main studio. The station’s owner was subsequently also unable to provide any information regarding the status or location of the station’s public inspection file.
Section 73.3526 of the FCC’s Rules requires broadcast stations to maintain certain materials for public inspection. Based on the station’s failure to comply with this Rule, the FCC proposed a fine of $10,000. The station’s licensee requested reduction of the fine for two reasons. First, the station asserted that it had been the licensee of the station for only a short period of time prior to the inspection. The FCC found that the licensee had operated the station for over five months and had ample time to assemble its public inspection file. Second, the licensee asserted that imposition of the forfeiture would pose a financial hardship. After examining the financial documentation submitted by the licensee, the Commission agreed that financial hardship would be imposed by a $10,000 fine and reduced the fine. Accordingly, a fine of $1,000 was imposed.
In the second case, the licensee of two co-located Texas radio stations was fined $8,000. In February 2008, Enforcement Bureau agents conducted an inspection of the stations’ main studio. The agents asked to inspect the public inspection file for each station. The public inspection files presented did not contain any quarterly issues/programs lists. No one at the station was able to produce the lists, and there was no evidence that the lists had ever been created.
Section 73.3526(e)(12) of the FCC’s Rules requires that a list of programs that have provided a radio station’s most significant treatmentof community issues during the preceding three month period be placed in the public inspection file on a quarterly basis. The list must include a brief narrative describing the issues addressed as well as the time, date, duration, and title of each program in which the issue was addressed. Based on the stations’ failure to maintain these lists, a fine of $8,000 was imposed.