||FCC Proposes Allowing Public Radio to Use 1% of Airtime to Raise Cash for Charities
Public service is part of the DNA of broadcasters and often that's done with on-air campaigns. But public radio stations have long been limited in their ability to conduct radiothons and air pitches for charities.
The FCC is proposing to loosen its rules to help public stations do more to help charities, churches, schools, and other non-profits raise money for worthy causes.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC suggests allowing public stations to use up to 1% of their annual broadcast time, or about 88 hours, to conduct on-air fundraising for charities. Stations will continue to be allowed to do as many fund-drives to support their own operation as they see fit.
The prohibition was put into place out of concern that public stations are licensed to serve local audiences with educational programming, and fundraising for third-parties would substantially alter that regular programming mission. But in recent years the FCC has eased on the 40-year old prohibition slightly. After disasters like Hurricane Katrina and last spring's devastating earthquake-tsunami disaster in Japan, the Media Bureau has issued temporary waivers to stations.
FCC chair Julius Genachowski says the experience in those cases has been "invaluable" but he adds, "We question whether it remains appropriate to require noncommercial stations to seek a waiver just as emergencies are occurring. This proposal would eliminate the need for such requests."
National Religious Broadcasters SVP Craig Parshall praised the FCC's decision to move forward with the idea. "The real winner here would be local communities who will be served even more effectively by non-profit charities," he says. NRB predicts religious broadcasters would put the new policy to great use if adopted.
(Source: Inside Radio, 04/27/12)