The Public Inspection File
Requirement to Maintain a Public Inspection File. FCC rules require all TV and radio stations and applicants for new stations to maintain a file available for public inspection containing documents relevant to the station’s operation. The public inspection file generally must be maintained at the station’s main studio. To obtain the address and phone number of a station’s main studio, consult your local telephone directory or call information.
Purpose of the File. As discussed above, stations have an obligation to serve their local community’s needs and interests and to comply with certain programming and other rules. Because we do not monitor a station’s programming, viewers and listeners are a vital source of information about the programming and possible rule violations. The documents in each station’s public inspection file have information about the station that can assist the public in this important role.
As discussed above, all stations have an obligation to cover important issues facing their communities, to comply with requirements governing use of their facilities by candidates for public office, and to refrain from airing indecent programming during times children are likely to be in the audience. In addition, TV stations must air educational programming for children and limit the amount of advertising in children’s programs. We encourage a continuing dialogue between broadcasters and members of the public to ensure that stations meet their obligations and remain responsive to the needs of the local community.
Viewing the Public Inspection File. The station must make its public inspection file available at its main studio at any time during regular business hours. Although you do not need to make an appointment to view the file, making one may be helpful both to the station and to you.
A station that chooses to maintain all or part of its public file in a computer database must provide you a computer terminal if you wish to review the file. If they want, they may also post their public file on the station’s World Wide Web site on the Internet. If you want to view a station’s public file over the Internet, you should ask the station if this is possible.
You may request copies of materials in the file by visiting the station in person. In addition, if the station’s public file is located outside of its community of license (and you live within the station’s service area and your request does not involve the station’s political file), you may also request copies of materials in the file over the telephone. To facilitate telephone requests, we require stations to provide you a copy of this manual free of charge if you want one. The manual can help you identify documents you may ask to have mailed to you. Stations can assist callers in this process and answer questions about the actual contents of the public file. This information includes, for example, the number of pages and time periods covered by a particular ownership or children’s television programming report, or the types of applications actually maintained in the station’s public file and the dates they were filed with the FCC. We also encourage (but do not require) stations to place the descriptions of their public files on any Internet home page that they maintain. You pay for any photocopies, and the station may require a guarantee of payment in advance (such as with a deposit or a credit card). The station must pay postage for copies requested by telephone.