The FCC says that the Long Island University Public Radio Network has been overdoing it with its underwriting announcements. Its messages were spurring complaints back in 2007. The parties have agreed to avoid a lengthy and protracted dispute over the matter, however, in favor of the consent decree route, in which the Network admits and is charged with no wrong-doing, yet will take steps to make sure its staff never does it again and makse a voluntary contribution to the US Treasury.
In this case, the contribution is $24K.
LIURN’s stations include WLIU-FM Southampton NY and WCWP-FM Brookville NY.
The FCC explained the rule in the decree: “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.” It noted that the line between what is and is not permissible can be fuzzy and that licensees are expected to exercise “reasonable good-faith” judgment on what it runs.
RBR-TVBR observation: We sometimes wonder in overwriting cases if the errant underwriters pulled in enough cash to pay for the FCC fine (or voluntary contribution, as the case may be). The fines (or contributions) rarely seem to be outrageously high amounts. It appears that the FCC uses these occasions to simply reinforce the rule rather than to make life unduly difficult for the non-profits who are often already on a shoestring budget. We think that is a good thing.