FCC Underwriting Rules for Noncommercial Radio and TV - A Seminar on the Issues

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Fines for noncommercial broadcasters who air acknowledgments of their donors and contributors that sound too much like commercials have been a problem area for many noncommercial educational radio and television stations, and have resulted in significant fines from the FCC. The FCC allows "enhanced underwriting announcements" that identify a sponsor, what their business is, and where they are located, but such information must be provided in an objective, non-promotional manner. Earlier this week, I conducted a seminar for noncommercial broadcast stations who are members of the Maine Association of Broadcasters and the Connecticut Broadcasters Association. During the seminar, we discussed the FCC rules that govern fundraising done on such stations. The PowerPoint slides from that presentation are available here, and provide an outline of the FCC rules on underwriting, promotions, fundraising and related issues, with samples of announcements that have led to FCC fines for noncommercial stations.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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