The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) requires that all TV and radio stations and applicants for new stations maintain a file available for public inspection that contains documents relevant to the station’s operation. It is hoped that the public file will encourage a dialogue between broadcasters and members of the public to ensure that stations meet their obligations and remain responsive to the needs of the local community.
ThinkTV’s public file is available for review online:
What is a public file?
Public File Contents
Public Inspection File contents as required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC):
A copy of the current authorization to construct or operate a station, as well as any materials documenting any FCC-approved modifications must be kept. The materials must remain on file until they have been replaced by a new authorization.
2. Applications and Related Material
The public file must contain copies of all applications filed with the FCC that are still pending before either the FCC or the courts. These include applications to sell the station (technically known as “assigning” or “transferring” the license) or to modify its facilities (for example, to increase power, change the antenna system, or change the transmitter location).
Also, the station must keep copies of any construction or sales application whose grant required the FCC to waive its rules. Applications that required a waiver, together with any related material, will reflect the particular rule(s) that were waived.
The station must also keep renewal applications that were granted for less than a full license term until final grant of their next renewal application. The FCC may grant such short-term renewals when they are concerned about the station’s performance over the previous term. These concerns will be reflected in the renewal-related material in the public file.
3. Contour Maps
The public file must contain copies of any service contour maps or other information submitted with any application filed with the FCC that reflects the station’s service contours and/or its main studio and transmitter location. These documents must stay in the file for as long as they remain accurate. Not all stations are required to have contour maps.
4. Ownership Reports and Related Materials
The public file must contain a copy of the most recent, complete Ownership Report filed for the station. This report has the names of the owners of the station and their ownership interests, lists any contracts related to the station that are required to be filed with the FCC, and identifies any interest held by the station licensee in other broadcast stations.
5. Political File
Stations must keep a file containing records of all requests for broadcast time made by or for a candidate for public office. The file must identify how the station responded to such requests and (if the request was granted) the charges made, a schedule of the time purchased, the times the spots actually aired, the rates charged, and the classes of time purchased. The file must also reflect any free time provided to a candidate. The station must keep the political records for two years after the spot airs.
6. Equal Employment Opportunity File
All stations are required to offer equal opportunity in employment. Discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or sex is prohibited. Forms describing how these policies have been complied with must be kept in the public file.
7. The Public and Broadcasting
A copy of the most recent version of the manual entitled The Public and Broadcasting must be kept on file.
8. Issues/Program Lists
Every three months a list of programs that have provided a significant treatment of community issues during the preceding three months must be complied and placed in the file. The list should include a brief description of the program and the issue. These lists must be kept for the duration of its license term.
9. Donor Lists
Noncommercial TV and radio stations must keep a list of donors supporting specific programs for two years after the program airs.
10. Local Public Notice Announcements
When someone files an application to build a new station or to renew, sell, or modify an existing station, the FCC requires the applicant to make a series of local announcements to inform the public of the application’s existence and nature. These announcements are either published in a local newspaper or made over the air on the station, and they are intended to give the public an opportunity to comment on the application. Copies of these announcements must be retained in the public inspection file.
11. Material Relating to FCC Investigation or Complaint
Stations must keep material relating to any matter that is the subject of an FCC investigation or a complaint that the station has violated the Communications Act or FCC rules. The station must keep this material until notified by the FCC that the material may be discarded.
12. Must-Carry Requests
Noncommercial television stations requesting mandatory carriage on any cable system must place a copy of the request in its public file for the duration of the period in which it applies.
FCC DTV Quarterly Activity Station Report Form 388 This form provides information to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about all station activities undertaken to educate consumers about the digital television (DTV) transition.