FCC fines rising for public file violations, attorney points out

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The CommLaw Center blog of law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman is cautioning broadcasters to pay closer attention to their public files. Media attorney Scott Flick observes that the Federal Communications Commission is taking a “hardening line on public inspection file violations.” In 1997, the FCC established a base fine of $10,000 for public inspection file violations, but tended not to issue fines for the full amount unless it was an egregious problem, such failure to keep a public file at all for some period of time, Flick writes. But over the past decade, $10,000 has become the standard fine for even minor public file violations — and in one recent case, the FCC adjusted that figure upward and issued a $15,000 fine. On Wednesday (Aug. 10) Pillsbury issued an update of its “Special Advisory for Commercial and Noncommercial Broadcasters: Meeting the Radio and Television Public Inspection File Requirements” (PDF) with an overview of the trend. Broadcasters “would be wise to ensure their public file is getting the attention it deserves,” Flick advises.