What is ABIP?
The FCC’s Washington Enforcement Bureau has agreed that it will not conduct a random inspection of your station for three years if you have an inspection done by the LAB’s approved ABIP Program Engineers. This inspection protection does not however prevent the FCC from conducting “targeted” inspections, such as an EAS Compliance inspection, or inspections caused by complaints of individuals about a station. Your Political Files, EEO Compliance and safety matters are also excluded from this protection. The agreement stipulates that your request to LAB for an inspection must be posted in a prominent place in the station(s) once the LAB notifies the FCC of your request and consent. Your Certificate must also be posted once the inspection is completed. The FCC will honor any Certificate of Compliance for three years or issued prior to the start of the new agreement if it is properly posted. Another major change in this Certificate of Compliance and the old agreement is that you have 150 days from the time of your inspection request to inspection completion – including any corrective measures!
What is the cost of an ABIP Inspection?
The cost varies as to member or non-member stations and length of time the authorized engineer must spend doing the inspection. The cost is minimal when compared to the benefits generated by the program.
What are the benefits of participation in the ABIP program?
When a station successfully completes its ABIP Inspection, it is free from non-targeted, random FCC inspections for a three-year period. A random inspection by the FCC often may carry with it the likelihood of a citation, which would require corrective action and possibly a consultation with their communications counsel. The station staff time and legal cost required to offset or disprove a citation does not, of course, even include the amount of a possible forfeiture, which could come from any violation.
While participation in the LAB’s ABIP may not stop a targeted FCC inspection, a successful completion of it should eliminate the real risk that the FCC will find anything amiss at the station even where the FCC’s inspection is targeted for EAS compliance. This is an important by-product of your participation.
Participation in the ABIP will allow you to gauge the competence and diligence of the personnel upon whom you rely to keep your station operating in full FCC compliance. The FCC recognizes that in broadcasting, as in all business endeavors, owners have to rely upon personnel and outside consultants to carry out a variety of tasks, including those that involve compliance. However, the Commission does not tolerate ignorance on the part of station ownership. Station ownership must have systems in place to insure that its personnel and consultants are qualified and diligent.
The FCC wants broad participation in the State Association’s ABIP Programs in order to reduce the need for FCC inspections and to raise the level of compliance throughout the entire country.
Here’s how it works…
LAB’s Inspector does a complete, mock inspection of your station, including determining if EEO and Political paperwork is current and properly placed in station’s Public Inspection File.
Station corrects deficiencies, if any, within a specified time-frame and Inspector then notifies LAB that Station is in compliance.
LAB notifies the FCC; issues Station a Certificate of Compliance; Station is granted immunity from random FCC inspections for a three year period.