Noncommercial Educational Station Fundraising for Third-Party Non-Profit Organizations

In 2017, the Commission adopted rules to allow many noncommercial television and radio stations to air limited fundraisers for the benefit of other non-profit organizations.  Under the rules, NCEs may devote up to one percent of their annual airtime to fundraising for third-party organizations that qualify as tax-exempt non-profits under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, without having to first seek a waiver from the FCC.  This allows NCEs to raise money for worthy causes, such as disaster relief and assistance for the poor, while educating their audiences about important issues.

Stations that engage in this type of fundraising can only be reimbursed by the third party for their expenses directly related to the fundraiser.  NCEs also will have to run on-air disclosures explaining that they are raising money for a third-party.  These limits aim to protect the unique noncommercial and educational nature of public broadcasting.

NCEs that receive funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) are not allowed to raise funds for third-party non-profit organizations without a waiver.


Noncommercial Educational Station Fundraising for Third Party Non-Profit Organizations. 

News Release: PDF

R&O: PDF | Word   


Noncommercial Educational Station Fundraising for Third-Party Non-Profit Organizations.

NPRM:  PDF | Word

Noncommercial Educational Television Stations’ Use of DTV Channel Capacity

On October 11, 2001, the Commission ruled that Noncommercial Educational (NCE) Television licensees are required to use their entire digital television (DTV) bitstream capacity primarily for nonprofit, noncommercial, educational broadcast services.  In this Report and Order, the FCC also ruled that the statutory prohibition against broadcasting of advertising on (NCE) television stations applies only to broadcast programming streams provided by NCE licensees, but does not apply to any ancillary or supplementary services presented on their excess DTV channels that do not constitute broadcasting.  The Commission further ruled that NCE licensees must pay a fee of five percent of gross revenues generated by ancillary or supplementary services provided on their DTV service.

The Commission said it would not establish a bright line test to define the term “primarily” but will instead define it as a “substantial majority” of a NCE station’s entire digital capacity, measured on a weekly basis.  It said the use of a weekly period would provide NCE stations with sufficient flexibility because stations typically schedule their programming on a weekly basis.

The District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Upheld the Commission's Decision.
Report: Acrobat

Ancillary or Supplementary Use of Digital Television Capacity by Noncommercial Licensees.
News Release: Html
R&O: Word '97 | PDF

Ancillary or Supplementary Use of Digital Television Capacity by Noncommercial Licensees.
NPRM: WordPerfectText

Related Information

Commission Policy on the Noncommercial Nature of Educational Broadcasting

For more information pertaining to the Policy Division, please call:  (202) 418-2120.

FCC Media Bureau > Policy Division

Tuesday, October 5, 2021