Can Stations Remove Letters from the Public from Their Public Files Yet?

Posted on June 30th, 2017 by

The short answer to the question from the headline above is yes. The FCC adopted an order much earlier this year eliminating the public file requirement for broadcast stations to place letters and emails from the public about station operations in their public files. That order had to be reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget before it could become effective. But as of June 29, 2017, notice in the Federal Register confirms that the order is effective and the requirement is no more. Who says the government doesn’t move quickly?

So this means that broadcast stations may now discard those letters/emails from the public that stations had been hanging onto in paper form. For stations that already transitioned to the online public file, these letters were still required to be kept on paper at the main studio “public file” to protect the privacy of individuals. For stations that are still doing paper files because they’ve not yet transitioned to the online file, these letters/emails are sandwiched somewhere in your public file filing cabinet, probably in a little folder marked “letters/emails from the public” or something like that.

We know this will be somewhat cathartic to have the joy of removing something from the public file forever, so you might want to bring someone along for that trip down the hall to retrieve and transition these documents to the shred pile. Going forward, no letters/emails from the public are required to be placed in a broadcast station’s public file.