The Broadcasters' Desktop Resource

Do We Still Need the ABIP?

Mike Langner author

[June 2024] The FCC executed agreements with state broadcast associations in 2003, which began the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program, or ABIP. By 2010, a quarter of radio and half of the TV stations were participating, most receiving a Certificate of Compliance, which shielded them from most random inspections for three years. 

More recently, participation in many places is fading. Some stations are either inspecting themselves – or not conducting any specific inspection program. The SBE and NAB have helped a bit by updating the 16-year-old FCC Self-Inspection Checklist. So, is the ABIP no longer needed? Mike Langner, the ABIP inspector for New Mexico considers this question. 

A few years ago, the FCC required most stations to upload – and check – each part of their On-Line Public Information Files (OPIF).

Then, during the Pandemic, most inspections by FCC Field Agents were suspended. Without the threat of surprise walk-in inspections, this has led some stations to ask if the Alternative Broadcast Inspection Program (ABIP) program still make sense? Should station management even care?

Recent actions indicate the FCC is developing a more intensive look at the OPIF materials – and are doing so more often – resulting in fines being issued.


As many stations have experienced over the past few years, the FCC now is regularly peering into stations’ On-Line Public Information Files – and finding lots of deficiencies. In fact, a number of stations have been fined for problems the FCC has found with their Public Files.

When Public Information Files were only held at the stations, the ABIP program kept FCC inspectors from snooping around the station files and operations unless there had been a complaint, or a targeted or directed inspection.

That is no longer true! Yes, you are not paranoid – you are being watched!


While the ABIP program may no longer keep the FCC from regularly looking at your Public Information Files, it still brings great benefits to your station – and for all the right reasons. Even better, in some states, the state broadcast association has arranged for an ABIP inspection to be completely free for members.

If your station(s) are among the many which have been part of the ABIP program in the past, you know that its primary purpose is to help your station become and stay as fully FCC compliant as possible.  That has not changed! But the OPIF is not the only part of your operation at which the FCC could be interested in looking.

The ABIP program looks for precisely what the FCC looks for – but without those expensive fines and forfeitures. The Inspector checks to see the transmitter is right where it should be, at the right power output, painted as required, and any field measurements reflect full compliance.

FCC Inspector checking the RF field at a monitor point for a transmission tower
Checking the RF field at a Monitor Point








He will also look at your Station Log to ascertain if your EAS codec is operating properly, the tower lights (if required) are fully functional, and the Chief Operator has done the weekly check and certified that operations are normal and in compliance.

FCC inspector checking paint on transmission tower
An ABIP Inspector eyeballs the tower paint







Perhaps you have a question or three about any of these issues? The Inspector will be happy to provide an answer, checking with the FCC, if necessary, to ensure you have the correct and up-to-date information.

At the end of the inspection, you can be assured that if an FCC Inspector comes to your station on the heels of an ABIP assessment – and any corrective action the ABIP representative suggest is taken – you are overwhelmingly likely to be FCC fine and forfeiture free.

After all, the entire spirit of the ABIP program has always been to help our industry be compliant and to stay that way – minimizing those very non-revenue-producing fines and forfeitures that sometimes become imposed on stations for Rules violations.


Back to our opening question – does the ABIP program still make sense?

You bet it does – especially because the reason stations which sign up for it is that they want to operate in compliance with the FCC Rules and to be good electronic citizens of our broadcasting marketplace.

And is that not exactly what we want for ourselves and for all the broadcast community?

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Mike Langner is an ABIP inspector. Based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he is a veteran engineer with some 50 years of broadcast experience. 

Do you have a question about ABIP inspections? Contact Mike at

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