kleptocrat: (n) �A thief in a position of political power; a greedy or corrupt politician.� � Oxford English Dictionary
Over the past 22 years, I have conducted thousands of radio and TV �Alternative Compliance Certification Inspections.� I�ve observed hundreds of stations going silent and answered phone calls inquiring how to �address X item of compliance without calling my $600+ per hour legal council?� It�s been quite the learning curve.�
My response always has to be a tad cryptic in order to avoid being brutalized by the legal tigers for practicing law without a shingle.
Most calls are from stations I have inspected and where I left my business card with the suggestion to call me with any question for which answer I do not charge. I find such is an excellent learning experience because, frequently, their questions involve a bit of research, and thus the caller and I both have the opportunity to learn something new.
Lately, the most common question has been, �How can I self-certify my station to be compliant, should the dreaded official FCC inspector show up with his fine-producing checklist in hand � with fines starting typically at $10,000?�
Here�s how: For less than half what most state broadcaster associations charge for a single station inspection (i.e. $250):
- Obtain a copy of the NAB �Legal Guide to Broadcast Law and Regulations.��
- Obtain a copy of the �SBE Broadcast Engineering Handbook.��
- Hop on the internet and download the �Self Inspection Checklist(s) appropriate for your station(s) fromwww.fcc.gov. There are six such checklists: AM, FM, TV and three shorter ones for translators.
You now have all you need to solve 96.5% of questions needed to be fully FCC compliant.�
Don�t panic � the remaining 3.5% can be handled by a simple phone call to one of the FCC experts who will be glad to help you. So your final item to download is the �FCC Expert List� of helpful individuals at the commission, who will answer any question for you without charging you the minimum $250 to pick up the phone that some legal beagles will.
Using the method I have just shared with you, my wife Karen and I have prevented well over $2.5 million in fines, fees, forfeitures and � most significantly � a like amount in legal costs.
Let�s stop feeding the Washington swamp of political kleptocracy with these outrageous costs and exploitations that in no way serve the FCC�s required standards of compliance for serving Americans� �Public Interest, Convenience and Necessity.�
Benner, 80, is a semi-retired broadcast engineer who has served American Broadcasting since 1959 when he hosted a classical music program on U.S. Armed Forces Radio from North Africa. He has also worked as a former talk show host, news-writer-producer-commentator and print columnist over the past 50 years. He is principal of K.J. Benner & Assoc., based in Tucson, Ariz.