FCC clears the way for noncom relief fundraising


FCCNon-profit broadcasters are allowed to raise funds to support their own operation, but find their hands tied when it comes to raising funds for just about anything else. The FCC is clearing the way to allow them to raise funds for those suffering the impact of Hurricane Sandy.

In announcing procedures for NCEs to participate in fundraising efforts, the FCC cited a litany of famous disasters for which it has done the same thing, including the terrorist attacks of 9/11/01, Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, the devastating Japanese earthquake/tsunami of 2011, the 2005 tsunami that hit Southeast Asia and the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

The FCC provided these instructions:

1) The licensee may submit an electronic mail request to Barbara Kreisman ([email protected]), if the request involves a television station, or to Peter Doyle ([email protected]) and Michael Wagner ([email protected]), if the request involves a radio station.

2) The request should provide basic details of the fundraising activity:
a. the nature of the fundraising effort;
b. the proposed duration of the fundraising effort;
c. the organization(s) to which funds will be donated; and
d. whether the fundraiser will be part of the licensee’s regularly scheduled pledge drive or fundraising effort.

RBR-TVBR observation: This special waiver is becoming a frequently repeated procedure – and when the same thing keeps happening over and over, perhaps it is time for an NPRM.

Let’s figure out what all these events have in common and get them into print, so the next time we have a similar situation, instead of a red tape festival that unnecessarily ties up FCC staff and slows down broadcast efforts, the FCC can simply issue a blanket announcement that the new emergency fund-raising policy is in effect and let the stations get to it.

A reporting requirement should be all that is needed to make sure the system is not abused. Stations should post the info requested above with the FCC and in their public file.

You may ask, what if a noncom uses the opportunity to raise funds for something completely unrelated to the disaster at hand? To that we answer, can’t they do that now anyway, if they wish? They risk running afoul of the rules if they do, facing the normal FCC menu of penalties – so we suspect this policy wouldn’t change a thing on that count.

We’re just looking to save everybody a little time, manpower and resources.