The next Quarterly Issues/Programs List (“Quarterly List”) must be placed in stations’ local public inspection files by October 10, 2010, reflecting information for the months of July, August and September, 2010.
Content of the Quarterly List
The FCC requires each broadcast station to air a reasonable amount of programming responsive to significant community needs, issues, and problems as determined by the station. The FCC gives each station the discretion to determine which issues facing the community served by the station are the most significant and how best to respond to them in the station’s overall programming.
To demonstrate a station’s compliance with this public interest obligation, the FCC requires a station to maintain, and place in the public inspection file, a Quarterly List reflecting the “station’s most significant programming treatment of community issues during the preceding three month period.” By its use of the term “most significant,” the FCC has noted that stations are not required to list all responsive programming, but only that programming which provided the most significant treatment of the issues identified.
Given the fact that program logs are no longer mandated by the FCC, the Quarterly Lists may be the most important evidence of a station’s compliance with its public service obligations. The lists also provide important support for the certification of Class A station compliance discussed below.
We therefore urge stations not to “skimp” on the Quarterly Lists, and to err on the side of over-inclusiveness. Otherwise, stations risk a determination by the FCC that they did not adequately serve the public interest during the license term. Stations should include in the Quarterly Lists as much issue responsive programming as they feel is necessary to demonstrate fully their responsiveness to community needs. Taking extra time now to provide a thorough Quarterly List will help to reduce risk at license renewal time.
It should be noted that the FCC has emphasized the importance of the Quarterly Lists. For example, the FCC concluded a hearing concerning the license renewal of a noncommercial educational station that, among other things, misrepresented that its public inspection file contained Quarterly Lists when in fact the public inspection file contained only lists of programming aired on the station without reference to any issues to which the programming was responsive. The FCC granted a short-term renewal of the station’s license and assessed a $10,000 fine for the violation. This decision emphasizes the importance of maintaining a complete public inspection file, including placing all Quarterly Lists in it on a timely basis. Article continues — the full article can be found at 2010 Third Quarter Issues/Programs List Advisory for Broadcast Stations.