Voluntary Public Inspection File
Traditionally, full-service broadcast stations (FM, AM and TV) were required to maintain a public inspection file. The file could be viewed by the public at the broadcast station's offices during normal business hours. The paper version of the public file included many details about the station including copies of licenses, complaints, applications, ownership reports, EEO reports, political reports, contour maps, FCC publications, listener/viewer correspondence and other related documents.
When Low Power FM (LPFM) radio was created in 2000, it was determined at that time that stations would not be required to keep a public file due to the burdens it would have on small stations.
Throughout the 2010s, the FCC has moved broadcast regulation into the future. For full-service broadcast stations, the FCC has transitioned the public inspection file from a drawer at the station's business office to an online system. As of November 15, 2018, all full-service broadcast stations are expected to use the online public inspection file system.
Even though LPFM stations are still not required to maintain any kind of public file, either paper or online, the FCC has not given LPFM stations the ability to voluntarily create and maintain a public file. Some LPFM stations have expressed interest in doing so.
To meet the needs of these LPFM stations, REC Networks, a major advocate for small community broadcast stations has developed and is providing this free service for LPFM stations who wish to have a public inspection file to have one that is designed in a manner that is similar to the FCC's public file system that is used by the full-service stations.
Under this Voluntary Public Inspection File system, LPFM stations may voluntarily upload documents as well as their station information on the site. This is not an FCC requirement and some stations may elect to provide some documents expected in a public file but may elect to not provide others. It is totally up to the station.
The use of the Voluntary Public Inspection File system helps LPFM stations demonstrate that they are a responsible member of the broadcast community and a stakeholder in the local community by carrying some of the burden that full-service stations are required to do.
This service is provided free of charge by REC Networks to stations and listeners.
The LPFM Voluntary Public Inspection File system can be accessed at LPFM.WS.