Section 399B of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended (Act) (47 U.S.C. § 399b) and sections 73.503 and 73.621 of the Commission's rules (47 CFR §§ 73.503 and 73.621) govern enhanced underwriting issues related to noncommercial broadcast stations.

Noncommercial broadcast stations, including low power FM (LPFM) stations, may not broadcast advertisements. Under Section 399B(a) of the Act, “advertisement” means “any message or other programming material which is broadcast or otherwise transmitted in exchange for any remuneration, and which is intended -- (1) to promote any service, facility, or product offered by any person who is engaged in such offering for profit; (2) to express the views of any person with respect to any matter of public importance or interest; or (3) to support or oppose any candidate for political office.”

Although contributors of funds to such stations may receive on-air acknowledgements of their support, the Commission has held that such acknowledgements are for identification purposes only and must not promote the contributors’ products, services, or businesses. In addition, such announcements may not contain comparative or qualitative descriptions; price information (sales or discounts); calls to action; inducements to buy, sell, rent, or lease; and excessively detailed “menu listings” of services offered by the entity.

The Commission has found that the longer the announcement, the more likely it is to contain material that is inconsistent with its “identification only” purpose. The Commission expects licensees to exercise reasonable “good faith” judgment in this area and affords some latitude to the judgments of licensees who do so.

The Enforcement Bureau's Investigations & Hearings Division is responsible for investigating complaints regarding violations of the noncommercial broadcast station enhanced underwriting rules.

Rules & Statutes


Tuesday, December 20, 2022