NRB Urges FCC to Allow Aid for Community Charities

Last week, in light of Thanksgiving and the Advent season, NRB renewed its call for the FCC to finalize a pending rule beneficial to charitable giving. The FCC began formally exploring in 2012 a NRB-spearheaded rule change that would allow noncommercial broadcast stations to conduct on-air fundraising for the benefit of third-party non-profit organizations. In a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, urged the completion of this proceeding and added, “I respectfully suggest that such action to aid the charitable nature of many Americans would be particularly appropriate and significant at the FCC’s Open Meeting in December, a time of year when many Americans are particularly mindful of giving opportunities and community needs.”

Current FCC rules prohibit noncommercial stations from fundraising for other non-profit groups unless the FCC provides a waiver, which is rarely granted. However, the important work of charities serving local communities syncs naturally with the missions and social service goals of many noncommercial broadcasters. NRB has proposed to the FCC that each noncommercial station be permitted to spend up to 1% of its annual on-air time raising funds for third-party non-profit groups recognized under IRS code §501(c)(3), a suggestion embraced in the FCC’s 2011 Information Needs of Communities Report.

Craig Parshall, NRB Senior Vice President and General Counsel, who has testified on this subject before the FCC, commented that this change is in the public’s interest, “The logical outcome of this change seems clear, and the result would be compelling: the non-profit resources in America will be more directly and comprehensively applied to the myriad problems facing today’s communities, while noncommercial broadcasters will be encouraged to perform the highest form of public service.”

The FCC is scheduled to have its next Open Meeting on December 12.

• Find NRB’s press release and Dr. Jerry A. Johnson’s letter to FCC Chairman Wheeler.
• NRB’s detailed public comments filed with the FCC on this proceeding are available here.

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President of Government Relations

Published: December 6, 2013