Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

... edited by Barry Mishkind - the Eclectic Engineer    


When The FCC Comes Calling

Why an ABIP Certificate Can Save a Lot of Hassle

Among the most stressful things that can happen to a broadcaster is the appearance of someone with an FCC badge who says "Hello, I'm from the FCC. I'd like to inspect your station and its records."

For some, the trauma is as great as going off the air. Visions of an Field Agent  or Enforcement Specialist writing up a series of mis-steps - ranging from missing papers in the Public File to incorrect EAS entries to a damaged tower fence - leading to a nasty Notice of Apparent Liability (NAL) flash before the eyes of even conscientious operators.

However, there is a relatively low-cost way to avoid most all of this. Oddly, many stations do not take advantage of this opportunity, where the FA or ES just says "Have a nice day!" and turns around and leaves immediately.


The mechanism is the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program. The FCC has made arrangements with the various state broadcast associations to not perform any "random" inspections of stations that pass an ABIP inspection for three years. All you have to do is have the inspection, post the certification, and worry a lot less.

The alternate inspectors have all gone through specific training and have accompanied FCC personnel in the field. They especially are familiar with the contents of the "Self-Inspection Checklist" and how to answer all the questions in the checklist.

Each state broadcast association has its own program, but typically they will send out, at very modest cost, an FCC qualified inspector to go through your station from top to bottom. The difference is that if any problems are discovered, the inspector will issue you a notice to correct - with no fine attached - and after you have corrected matters, the Certificate of Compliance will be issued.

According to the ABIP, the inspector is not  going to offer his services to make the corrections for you, as that is deemed a conflict of interest. However, he may well offer you some pointers and even a few pieces of information to help you do it yourself.


An ABIP Certification does not cover clearly obvious operation at variance with your Authorization. For example, if you are a daytimer and the transmitter is still on after dark, and an agent is in the area, you can expect a visit. Or, if an agent is at another station looking at their EAS log and determines you should have fed them an EAS test, but did not, you can expect a visit.  Things like that.

A specific complaint from the Public also may spark an inquiry on a specific issue but, of course, once an agenr is in the building, the agent might just want to see some other paperwork or tour the physical plant.


Some states, like Texas, have even reduced the cost of inspection so that more stations will participate in the program.

Contact your state association for more information.



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