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From the Public Comments: Should the FCC Lift Restrictions on Underwriting for Religious Broadcasters?

June 11th, 2010 by Andrew Kaplan - Special Assistant to the Future of Media project

The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) recently wrote in their public comment [filed February 18, 2010] that while they generally are skeptical of government involvement in media, there are two practical policies in which the FCC could “fertilize” the conditions surrounding the media without actually subsidizing it.
 
The NRB first proposes that the FCC to change its rule and allow fundraising for “third party, non-profit charities by non-commercial broadcast stations.” Currently, noncommercial stations are prohibited from substantially altering or suspending regular programming to fundraise for any entity other than itself. The NRB suggests permitting “NCE licensees to alter or suspend up to 1% of its annual broadcasting time for the purpose of raising funds for third-party, non-profit organizations recognized under section 50 I 1(3) of the I.R.S. code.”
 
Secondly, NRB urges the Commission to lift restrictions on programming sponsorships and underwriting for NCE stations that do not receive federal money, thus allowing more competition with stations affiliated with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
 
The NRB notes that F.C.C. rules “permit sponsorship content that merely ‘identifies’ the
sponsor in a given broadcast spot, but prohibits any that ‘promotes’ a sponsor.” NRB seeks a new rule “which makes sponsorship and underwriting regulations more flexible, provided that it would not substantially alter the non-commercial nature of NCE licensees nor cause them to morph into a commercial model.”
 
Do you agree with these suggestions made? Why or why not?

4 Responses to “From the Public Comments: Should the FCC Lift Restrictions on Underwriting for Religious Broadcasters?”

  1. Max says:

    I do not like the idea of promotional advirtizing over non commercial radio stations. I am "ASHAMED" that a religious group wants to "play" with the definition of "non commercial".
    I think that the public at large is bombarded with all sorts of advirtizing. It is too much to take away "SAFE HAVENS" from unwanted adds. There is MORE THAN ENOUGH space for advirtizing. We need quiet places withpouit the thread of having our minds " seized and inputted" without the permision of the individual listening.

  2. Max says:

    The more I think about the position of NRB, the more concerned and angry I become. How can a credible and reliable organization start nibbling at non-commercial programs to take away MY FREEDOM to pursue self-education? Most such programs are basicly intellectual, or at least educational in nature. People listen to them because of subject interest, not just gossips and jesting, and fun. When we listen to a serious debate or monologue we do not want to be interupted by UNCALLED FOR "intervention" that BY FORCE TAKES over MY ATTENTION in MY BRAIN, without MY PERMISSION? When hearing a serious debate, or serious thoughts on a topic of interest, MY PREFERRED RESPONCE is to quitely absorb the content, to contemplate on it without intervention of extraneous ideas.
    Anyway, serious people choose their own charities by formal means. How can we rely on a station to KNOW what is the "BEST CHARITY" to support for this week? Why do they know? How do they know?

  3. Dick says:

    The concept that religious organizations are of less value to the public, or that deriving financing from the public, whether corporate or private, is onorous or morally bereft of value is absurd. Obviously, if National Public Radio is allowed to sell sponsorships at this time within a structure that does not compete with commercial stations, then religious organizations must be given the freedom as well. Opposition to such equal status to NPR is most likely based on a phobia that those with a faith and furvor for uplifting man's natural state will somehow restrict the unhampered biogtry of those who oppose religious freedom. The issue is a level playing field for all. The government should not be in the business of deciding whose programming is of greater value and squelching those it deems of lesser value to the community. FCC, level playing field!

  4. Guest says:

    Currently many religious broadcasters fill the air with constant fundraisers, while "tithing" local churches.
    Their use of conservative political commentaries and "news" programs, most of which seem to parrot the Republican Party, belies their nature as objective non-commercial educational licensees.
    Religious broadcasters need to be required to follow existing FCC rules and regulations concerning staffing, frequency, power, etc. The FCC has turned a blind eye to interference abuses by many religious broadcasters and their translators.
    With a relatively small over-the-air audience, an handful of religious licensees have gobbled up much of the NCE spectrum.
    This spread of religious licensees has prevented local community and school stations from gaining access to the FM band.

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