A call no General Manager or Engineer wants to get is the one that starts with “The FCC inspectors are here.” A surprise FCC visit that unearths violations has the potential to severely impact or cripple a local radio or television station. Fines for easy to overlook public file violations can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. There is a simple and inexpensive solution, however. The NHAB Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program (ABIP).
Through ABIP, stations take part in a voluntary inspection performed by Bob Shotwell, a licensed FCC inspector. Bob inspects each station using the FCC’s self-inspection checklist. He notes areas that a station would and would not pass and gives the station opportunity to fix the problems. Once that is done he and the MBA issue a Certificate of Compliance. This certificate, when hung in the lobby or studio keeps a station from being randomly inspected by the FCC with a few exceptions:
· “Targeted Tower Safety Inspection” (relative to tower safety issues and limited to the antenna site)
· “Complaint Driven Inspection” (any complaint initiated against a station)
· Political broadcasting or EEO materials required to be in the station’s public inspection file.
Through the ABIP program, New Hampshire radio and television stations have avoided upwards $500,000 of potential fines over the last several years. ABIP inspections are available for both non-members and members. The NHAB subsidizes $175 of the $500 fee for each member station. Either way, it’s a small price to pay to avoid those hefty FCC fines.
If you don’t have an ABIP Certificate of Compliance hanging in your lobby or studio or the expiration of your certificate has passed. Sign up for an Alternative Broadcast Inspection today. Head to NHAB.org to get started.