LPFM Station Fined $15K for Airing Commercials

Posted on July 30th, 2020 by

We don’t often see enforcement actions for violations of the FCC’s underwriting restrictions for noncommercial stations, so any such published action gets our attention.  On July 2, 2020, the FCC issued a Notice to a low power FM station that it must pay $15,000 for airing commercials (LPFM stations must operate noncommercially).  All NCE stations should take the time to read the notice.

The Notice took some time to identify which announcements constituted violations of the FCC’s non-commercialization policies, breaking down announcements that were too long and those that used promotional comparative/qualitative language, pricing language, or menu listings.  The decision reiterates that shorter is better (it flags announcement over 30 seconds, though we recommend 20 seconds as a guide). The menu listings cited had numerous items/services (we recommend not exceeding three).

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Notice is that after receiving numerous complaints, the FCC’s field office actually engaged in active monitoring of the station’s content.  We don’t recall a prior instance where FCC personnel carried out active monitoring of an NCE station for compliance with underwriting rules. That’s as good an indication as any that the FCC wants NCE stations to comply with its rules.