In an address to National Religious Broadcasters, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the organization’s members should not need to seek FCC permission every time they want to collect donations for a local soup kitchen or shelter for battered women.
He said that the federal government should welcome the charity of citizens, but “isn’t charitable when it comes to its own regulations,” noting that in general, noncommercial broadcasters are only allowed to raise money for their own operation.
Pai said, “Now, the FCC has waived these rules on occasion following catastrophic events like the September 11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake in Haiti, and the tsunami in Japan. But noncommercial stations shouldn’t have to seek Commission approval each time they wish to raise money for those in need. And disaster-relief efforts aren’t the only worthy charitable causes. Those who are hungry or homeless need help every day, not just in the aftermath of events that generate headlines.”
He said the policy is currently under review and stated that in his opinion, allowing third-party fund-raising is the right thing to do.
The limit he supports is a ceiling defined by 1% of a station’s airtime, which works out to about 88 hours per year or 15 minutes per day.
He said he agreed with a stipulation that a qualifying licensee must be 501(c)3 organization so the FCC doesn’t find itself making judgment calls as to which may or may not engage in third-party fund-raising.