Connecticut noncom agrees to decree on underwriting


The FCC had reason to believe that a noncommercial FM station in the extreme western portion of Connecticut was straying over the line when it came to the content of its underwriting messaging. However, the Commission admitted that the line can be fine, and the two parties have settled the matter without a finding of misdoing.
The station is WHDD-FM Sharon CT, licensed to Tri-State Public Communications Inc.

Sharon is in an unrated portion of the state to the northwest of Waterbury, the north of Danbury and the east of Poughkeepsie NY (technically, in the middle of somewhere).

Describing the matter, FCC wrote, “Although contributors of funds to such stations may receive on-air acknowledgements of their support, the Commission has held that such acknowledgements may be made for identification purposes only, and should not promote the contributors’ products, services, or businesses. Specifically, such announcements may not contain comparative or qualitative descriptions, price information, calls to action, or inducements to buy, sell, rent or lease. At the same time, however, the Commission has acknowledged that it is at times difficult to distinguish between language that promotes versus that which merely identifies the underwriter and is consistent with the Commission’s Rules and decisions establishing compliant underwriting announcements.  Consequently, the Commission expects licensees to exercise reasonable, ‘good faith’ judgment in this area, and affords some latitude to the judgments of licensees who do so.”

The Commission in this instance only went so far as to state that T-SPC appeared to go over the line. The result is the consent decree in which the station and licensee admit no guilt and agree to take steps to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

That includes adoption of a compliance plan and reporting requirements.

And it will include the customary voluntary contribution to US Treasury to help defray the national debt. In this case, it will be $15K, payable in three installments – one upon issuance of the decree, the next one within three months and the final one within six months.