KCET-TV Fined $10,000 on Public Inspection File Access Violation
February 8, 2011
WASHINGTON: KCET-TV, the former flagship PBS member station
in Los Angeles, is being fined $10,000 over an incident with its public
inspection file. The Federal Communications Commission issued a
Notice of Apparent Liability to the station for not making its public
inspection file available. The notice says KCET “willfully and repeatedly”
violated the requirement. KCET is owned by the non-profit Community Television
of Southern California, which took the station independent Jan. 1.
An FCC field agent visited KCET’s Hollywood studios Aug. 19, 2010, and without
identifying himself as such, requested the station’s public inspection file. A
security guard gave the agent a phone number and told him to make an
appointment. The guard then denied the agent’s request to speak to a manager.
The sequence of events was repeated when the agent returned to the station on
the following morning. He then returned in the afternoon, displayed his FCC
badge to the guard, who, “after a thorough examination... and several phone
calls to personnel inside the building,” let the agent in. The files were found to be in order.
Asked why he was denied entry, the agent was told that the station’s attorney
was out at the time, and that available staff weren’t aware of the FCC’s public
inspection file access rules. KCET’s security policy requires that people make an
appointment before entering the facility. FCC rules require that noncommerical,
educational stations provide access to public inspection file materials during regular
“Stations cannot require members of the public to make appointments to access a
station’s public inspection file,” the NAL
The commission said it tolerates reasonable security delays of around 10
minutes, but that outright denial is a violation.
KCET now claims to be the “largest independent TV station in the country,”
following the relinquishment of its PBS affiliation. KCET had been Southern
California’s primary PBS affiliate for 40 years, but elected to end the
relationship over the network’s fee structure.
-- Deborah D. McAdams
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