Underwriting Fines

  • In March 2009, the FCC issued a Notice of Apparent Liability to a licensee for violation of its rules regarding underwriting announcements on NCE stations. Under the FCC's rules, NCE stations are prohibited from airing underwriting announcements that constitute advertisements benefiting for-profit entities. Station contributors may receive on-air acknowledgement of their support for "identification purposes only." The FCC determined that eight underwriting announcements that aired between July 2003 and September 2004 went beyond identification and constituted prohibited advertisements because they invited and induced patronage, used qualitative language and favorably distinguished various businesses. The Commission proposed a $20,000 forfeiture due to the blatant nature of the announcements and the lengthy period of time over which they aired. The Commission cautioned that similar violations in the future may result in harsher sanctions. The Notice is available here.

Sponsorship Identification

  • On March 9, 2009, the FCC entered into a Consent Decree with a licensee regarding possible violations of the FCC's payola and sponsorship identification rules. As a result, the licensee voluntarily contributed $50,000 and adopted business reforms to further its compliance with the rules. A copy of the Consent Decree can be found here.

Caller Contests

  • On April 8, 2009, the FCC issued a $4,000 Forfeiture Order to a Boston, Massachusetts, station for willfully violating the FCC's rules requiring that stations announce all material terms of a caller contest and conduct the contest in accordance with those terms. The Forfeiture Order addressed a contest called "Win a Car" that was broadcast as a chance to win one of three new cars. After qualifying for a chance to win, the contestant learned that the grand prize was actually a two-year lease that was conditioned upon qualifying for credit with the car dealer. The FCC determined that the contest's on-air promotions were misleading, failed to disclose an accurate description of the grand prize and failed to disclose that the complete contest rules could be found on the website. The Forfeiture Order can be found here.