Underwriting Rules Reminder for NCE Stations

Posted on February 26th, 2018 by

The FCC recently fined a two-station owner $115,000 as part of a consent decree for numerous violations of the FCC’s underwriting policies. In addition, the licensee agreed to a one-year moratorium on seeking or accepting underwriting from for-profit entities, and had to adopt a “rigorous” compliance plan to prevent future violations.

The FCC has been warning for a few years now that it was going to heavily increase fines for NCE stations that violate the underwriting requirements. This is a good example of that intent coming to fruition. Plus, we can’t recall an underwriting moratorium as part of a penalty before. The FCC wanted to make a point here, and even issued a press release about the action, calling it the largest penalty ever for violations of the Commission’s underwriting rules.

Particularly helpful are the described violations – comparative language (“you can trust Bill Luke car dealership”), price information (“additional holiday bonus savings on select models”), calls to action (“are you ready to buy a house? & “want to know if you qualify?”), menu listing of products or services (six cell phone companies listed), and excessive length of announcements (between 30 and 60 seconds in duration).

NCE stations should have good controls in place to ensure that underwriting announcements comply with Commission policies (not always a straightforward matter).