Self Exam Backfire

I was recently called out by a reader of my comments in Radio Business Report regarding the assessment of fines by the FCC when a broadcast licensee reports Public File lapses as a part of the license renewal self-inspection process.  The FCC had levied several $10,000 fines when broadcasters reported that their issues/programs files were not up to date.  My reaction and comments was to challenge the FCC’s premise and practice.My proposition was that if the FCC truly wanted to change bad behavior, this was not the way to do it.  By levying fines on those honest folk that indicate a short-coming and in fact report steps taken to correct the problem, the process of fining those that “come clean” was counter-productive.

If the FCC wants to slap fines on those who honestly report their lapses and can show (a) what happened and (b) what the corrective process is, they are only going to drive licensees away.  All that will occur will be to paper over the shortcoming any way possible and sweep it under the rug.  That’s human nature, folks.

In our opinion, it would be better to issue a “fix it ticket” if the broadcaster can make a clear showing that the problem has been corrected.  You may expect positive change by hanging a carrot out there, not by whomping people with a big stick.  The alternative is to continue to have those who are not informed and those who are simply scofflaws to keep mum about their transgressions and in fact perpetuate bad behavior.

That’s 30 for now…For What It’s Worth.