A Reminder About Those Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists

Posted on February 27th, 2020 by

This is our annual reminder about what stations are required to include in quarterly issues/programs lists. You might ask why we revisit this from time to time.  Good question.  The answer is because we often “see” quarterly issues/programs lists that are woefully inadequate (emphasis on “woefully”).  Our concern is that one day, a station will get the privilege of paying a fine because their list does not even come close to complying with the rule, and will be therefore be disregarded – treated as thought a list had never even been compiled.

So, let’s review.  At the end of each calendar quarter, each commercial and noncommercial licensee of a TV, Class A TV, AM and FM station must complete and upload to their public file a list of programs that have provided the station’s most significant treatment of community issues during that preceding quarter. The list needs to contain a brief narrative describing what issues were given significant treatment and the programming that provided that treatment. The description must also at least include the time, date, duration and title of each program in which the issue was treated.

How does a station identify community issues?  That is left to a licensee’s discretion. But at a bare minimum, the best way to identify community issues is to read, listen and watch local information sources.  Listen to what your listeners or viewers are telling you are issues that are important to them.

How many issues/programs must be listed?  The FCC does not set a specific number, but we suggest including at least 5-7 of these per quarter.  You do not need to list every time during an entire calendar quarter that a community issue was addressed (that would be overkill and way too time-consuming). Public service announcements should not be your station’s only “programming” that addresses the issue (you should actually have the issue addressed as part of a program the station airs).

Do your quarterly issues/programs lists include the date, time, duration, title and issue treated in the program that addressed an issue in your station’s area?  Hmmm.  Go ahead and check by clicking on the public file link and typing in your station’s call letters.  It will help you sleep better. We promise.  And what could be better than good sleep?