By Hannah Osborne
In an ever-changing broadcasting landscape, maintaining the profitability of stations is of utmost importance, a fine by the FCC may put a damper on these ambitions.
Within the functions of the FCC, the organization has the responsibility to ensure that stations are properly maintaining operations. When stations become licensed by the FCC they agree to abide by these standards, giving the FCC the ability to show up at broadcasting stations unannounced to perform station inspections. Stations are not altogether helpless in these situations. The primary way for stations to avoid FCC fines is to maintain compliance with FCC regulations.
There are two ways to go about ensuring a station is up to code: a time-consuming self-inspection, as can be noted when viewing the FCC Self-Inspection checklist, outlining 90 codes for FM stations, 96 codes for television stations, and 107 codes for AM stations.
Alternatively, Georgia stations can take advantage of the Georgia Association of Broadcasters’ Alternative Broadcasting Inspection Program (ABIP) which comes free of charge to members (members are expected to foot the cost of travel expenses for technicians).
ABIP is facilitated by GAB, sending a technician to the broadcasting station to perform the inspection. In addition to ABIP taking a self-inspection off of the plate of broadcasters, the FCC recognizes the inspection and provides the station a 3-year warranty from FCC inspections (exceptions to this immunity include: tower safety issues & compliant-initiated issues related to political broadcasting or public file).
Taking proactive steps is essential in preventing fines that may threaten the operation of these stations. The process to apply for ABIP is easy and headache-free. Broadcasting stations must download and complete the ABIP inspection form to request an inspection. After receiving the request, GAB will arrange an inspection date that will be communicated to the station by the inspector. GAB will then notify the FCC that an inspection is pending, providing a 150-day agreement that the FCC will not perform an inspection of the station. Once the station has passed the inspection GAB will provide a signed certificate to be displayed in the entryway of the station.
Georgia Association of Broadcasters ABIP service eliminates the need for self-inspection and the risk of a fine by the FCC.
John George, GAB’s chief engineer, puts it simply saying, “It’s common sense.”
George emphasizes that the ABIP program is a perk that members of the GAB should take advantage of. A failed inspection by the ABIP program comes with the opportunity for a re-inspection. A failed inspection by the FCC comes attached with fines that could result in the station becoming unprofitable for the year.
The ABIP program provided by the GAB provides members with the benefit of a nearly cost-free inspection – again, we cover the cost of the inspection, but all stations handle travel expenses – and the weight of a potential FCC fine to be taken off of their shoulders.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says George.