FCC notice reminds TV broadcasters of online database obligations

The FCC released a public notice Dec. 11 to remind full-power and Class A TV stations that they are required to post most of their public inspection files online in the central database hosted by the agency.

The requirement is being phased in throughout the six-month period from August 2012 to February 2013.

According to the notice, more than 1700 TV licensees have uploaded 141,000 documents to the database. Nearly 150,000 unique visitors have accessed the files so far, the FCC said. All full-power and Class A TV stations were required to begin filing all new public documents in the online database beginning Aug. 2, 2012, with a few exceptions.

Stations also were required to upload public-file documents already in existence before Aug. 2 with the exception of their political file. The FCC gave stations six months to complete uploading of documents existing prior to Aug. 2, 2012. The deadline for completing their upload is Feb. 4, 2013, the notice said.

Only stations affiliated with the top-four national TV networks in the top-50 TV DMAs were required to begin uploading their political files. Those stations are required to upload documents placed in their public file on and after Aug. 2, 2012.

All other TV stations were not required to upload their political files; however, they must continue to maintain them on site unless they volunteer to begin uploading them to the database. On July 1, 2014, all TV stations will be required to file their political files in the online database on a going-forward basis, the notice said.

There is no requirement to upload political files placed in station public files before Aug. 2, 2012. Stations, however, must maintain those documents on site until the end of the two-year retention period, the reminder said.

Stations also are not required to upload letters and emails from the public to the online public file; however, they must maintain the letters and emails in a correspondence file at their main studios.