Friday, October 07, 2011

Non-commercial stations not allowed to air commercials

The FCC has denied a petition to waive the underwriting rules for non-commercial FM stations, to allow five stations owned by Network of Glory, Inc. to air commercials. Network of Glory claims that the poor economy has made it difficult to obtain grants and underwriting for the operation of their stations.

FCC regulation 73.503 allows non-commercial stations to acknowledge contributions on the air -- so-called "underwriting" announcements. This page explains what's acceptable in an underwriting announcement. Basically, non-commercial stations may identify their contributors, indicate where contributors' businesses are located, and indicate what type of business the firm conducts. They may not compare their contributors' products/services to those of other firms or issue a "call to action", asking listeners/viewers to buy something from contributors.

Network of Glory apparently feels these regulations are too restrictive, are making it difficult for them to obtain enough support to continue operation.

The Commission disagrees. Firstly, they state that Section 399B of the Communications Act prohibits the broadcast of commercials by non-commercial stations. The FCC cannot waive the Communications Act; only Congress can do that. The Commission also notes that having difficulty raising funds is hardly unusual among non-commercial stations. Network of Glory's situation is hardly unique; the right place to address their issues would be in a request to amend the FCC Regulations. (and before that, to amend the Communications Act)

The five stations involved are:
KEJA-91.7 Cale, Ark.
WAKP-89.1 Smithboro, Ga.
KEIS-90.3 York, Nebr.
KJOG-91.1 Cleveland, Okla.
WGBQ-91.9 Lynchburg, Tenn.

All five are fairly recent stations.


Shoppin' Sally said...

If they feel the regulations are too restrictive then they should become a full-fledged commercial station. I applaud the FCC for showing some backbone.

Doug Smith said...

Fully agreed.

FWIW, I went back & looked up the dates on these stations.

All five were applied for in the October 2007 filing window. The oldest, WAKP, filed for its license-to-cover in July of 2010; the others filed on various dates between then and this May.

I would say either they didn't think out their finances very well before building, or they were planning on airing commercials all along.