At its April meeting, the FCC voted to allow noncommercial stations not affiliated with NPR or CPB to raise funds for third-party nonprofit organizations, even where such fundraising appeals interrupted normal programming, as long as the licensee did not devote more than 1% of its yearly airtime to such appeals. We wrote here about the decision before it was adopted. The decision adopting the rule change was published in the Federal Register on May 5, 2017, with an effective date of July 5, but for the new rules that need approval from the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act. So the change in the rules allowing noncommercial stations to raise funds for third party non-profit organizations is now in effect.
The provisions still under OMB review deal with the on-air disclosures that the FCC required for such third-party fundraising appeals and the public file documentation of such appeals. The on-air disclosures require that the station tell its audience during any fundraising appeal that the money is going to a third-party, not to the station. Whether or not the new rules are in effect, it would seem that any station making an appeal for money for some other nonprofit group would make such a disclosure, for legal and public relations reasons. The public file disclosures under review by the OMB require information about:
• the date, time, and duration of the fundraiser; • the type of fundraising activity; • the name of the non-profit organization benefitted by the fundraiser; • a brief description of the specific cause or project, if any, supported by the fundraiser; • and, to the extent that the station participated in tallying or receiving any funds for the non-profit group, an approximation of the total funds raised
While the obligation to include this information in the public file is not yet effective, it is likely that at some point this requirement will be approved, so stations ready to take advantage of the new fundraising flexibility should retain this information.