New NCE Fundraising Rule Effective Date

Posted on June 30th, 2017 by

Remember earlier this year when the FCC adopted an order allowing NCE stations to conduct fundraising for third-party 501(c)(3) non-profits for up to 1% of their airtime per year? Well, we’ve been waiting for that rule change to go into effect, and most of it will actually become effective July 5, 2017. We know your next question. What exactly does “most of it” mean?

Well, two parts of the rule change had information collection-related requirements, and those have to await the dreaded Office of Management and Budget review. Those parts were (i) the requirement to make on-air announcements during a third-party fundraiser that made clear the fundraiser is for the third party, and not the station, and (ii) the requirement to disclose, on a quarterly basis, a notice/summary of the third-party fundraiser in the station public inspection file. So, for the FCC, the question was whether to delay the entire rule until OMB review was completed on those two information requirements, or allow the general rule to go into effect, with the information requirements to follow later.

We have learned that the FCC chose the latter approach, allowing the general rule to go into effect on July 5. As for those two other parts, that will still take several weeks before they become effective. The FCC is encouraging stations to follow the announcement and public file disclosure requirement voluntarily so that the public is clear as to what is occurring. We agree with the FCC’s approach because it seems a given that a station is going to be clearly identifying who benefits from the fundraiser on-air, and because the public file requirement for any fundraiser conducted between July 5 and September 30 this year won’t have to be included in the public file until October 10, 2017, and by then, that part of the rule will probably be in effect anyway.

So there, now that we’ve cleared that up, keep calm and carry on with your new ability to help non-profits in your community.