Online Public File Deadline Nears for Radio Stations

Posted on October 31st, 2017 by

Radio stations that have not yet transitioned their public files to the FCC’s online portal have a bit of work to do between now and the March 1, 2018 deadline for doing so. The good news is that you can start anytime. The FCC’s system lets stations begin the process by gradually uploading documents before clicking the button to go “live” with the file.

But before you start, remember this: Many stations that still have paper public files have several file drawers packed full of documents from past years, and those files contain a slew of documents that should have long ago been discarded. So step one is to figure out what can be tossed before you start scanning documents from that bulky file cabinet that don’t need to be in your online public file. Under the existing public file rule, you only have to have documents in your public file from your current license period. And in certain cases, the retention period is even shorter than that. So, if you have documents in there from the 1970s, those definitely belong in the shred pile. The FCC’s online public file system has a description of the documents required and retention periods at the top of each folder page.

When TV stations transitioned to the online public file a few years ago, FCC staff members started calling stations that did not complete the transition by the deadline. Let’s see how we can say this. Umm, you don’t want to get that call. The staffers aren’t mean. But they write down your call letters as a station on the rule violation list. And that’s never fun at license renewal time.