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Good News, But A Caution In FCC Agenda

FCC logoIn the FCC’s “Tentative Agenda” for its April 27th public meeting, two items impact NRB and its members directly. The Commission is scheduled to discuss a possible proposed rule-making on an issue strongly supported by NRB: granting more leeway to non-commercial broadcasters to raise money on the air for other non-profits without the necessity of an FCC waiver. On the flip side, the Commission is slated to consider issuing a Report and Order on its “enhanced disclosure” proceeding regarding television broadcasters, with one aspect – mandatory Internet posting of station “political files” and data on issue-advocacy groups – having been strongly opposed by NRB in its Comment to the FCC.

When the Commission held its field hearing at Arizona State University, at the Walter Cronkite School of Communications last fall, NRB Senior VP and General Counsel Craig Parshall was invited to participate as a presenter to discuss the value of granting non-com broadcasters the ability to raise funds on-air for 501 (c)(3) groups, for up to 1% of their annual programming time, without having to secure FCC waivers in advance. In practice, such waivers have been denied except in cases of massive disasters. At the Arizona hearing, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced his support for granting non-coms “more flexibility to raise money for charities …” The other issue, requirement of detailed posting on the web of TV station files on political and issue advocacy ad inquiries, was opposed by NRB because of the risk of retaliation against citizens involved in local issues such as abortion or opposition to same-sex marriage once their identifying information is spread across the Internet by broadcast stations. The FCC has indicated that although the rule would apply first to TV, it might also be expanded to include radio stations.