NY Times Goes In Search Of 'The Public File'
December 6, 2011 at 3:48 AM (PT)
The public file. It's something every broadcast station is required to keep, but apparently it's not something that many employees know enough about -- at least that's the finding of THE NEW YORK TIMES.
A TIMES reporter visited several NEW YORK television and radio stations, and found varying knowledge of the public file.
"At the office of radio stations [WRKS] KISS (98.7 FM) and WQHT (97.1 FM) both owned by EMMIS COMMUNICATIONS," wrote THE TIMES, "a receptionist looked puzzled at the mention of a public file, said most of the staff was in a meeting, and invited the reporter to leave a message. The message never received a response."
"An employee at the office of CLEAR CHANNEL BROADCASTING's local stations (WHTZ, 100.3 FM; WKTU, 103.5 FM; WAXQ, 104.3 FM; WWPR, 105.1 FM; and WLTW, 106.7 FM) chided a reporter for trying to enter without an appointment and insisted she arrange a time at least one day in advance."
The FCC posts on its website "Requirement to Maintain a Public Inspection File." It reads:
The FCC's rules require all broadcast stations and applicants for new stations to maintain a file available for public inspection. These rules are located in Sections 73.3526 (commercial broadcast services) and 73.3527 (noncommercial educational broadcast services) of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.3526 and 73.3527. The public inspection file generally must be maintained at the station's main studio. An applicant for a new station or change of community must maintain its file at any accessible place in the proposed community of license or at its proposed main studio.
Sections 73.3526 and 73.3527 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.3526 and 73.3527, are not applicable to Low Power FM and Low Power television stations and applicants. See 47 C.F.R. §§ 73.801 and 74.480.
Access to Material in the File
The public inspection file shall be available for public inspection at any time during regular business hours. All or part of the file may be maintained in a computer database, as long as a computer terminal is made available, at the location of the file, to members of the public who wish to review the file. Material in the public inspection file shall be made available for printing or machine reproduction upon request made in person. The applicant, permittee, or licensee may specify the location for printing or reproduction, require the requesting party to pay the reasonable cost thereof, and may require guarantee of payment in advance (e.g., by requiring a deposit, obtaining credit card information, or any other reasonable method). Requests for copies must be fulfilled within a reasonable period of time, which generally should not exceed seven (7) days.
The applicant, permittee, or licensee who maintains its main studio and public file outside its community of license must:
* Make available to persons within its geographic service area, by mail upon telephone request, photocopies of documents in the file, excluding the political file, and the station must pay postage;
* Mail the most recent version of "The Public and Broadcasting" to any member of the public who requests a copy; and
* Be prepared to assist members of the public in identifying the documents they may ask to be sent to them by mail, for example, by describing to the caller, if asked, the period covered by a particular report and the number of pages included in the report.