LPFM Station Fined for Violating Underwriting Laws

Posted by on Sep 11, 2017 in News and Events | 0 comments

Attention All Non-Commercial Broadcasters:

After investigating various allegations against Lighthouse Christian Center, WLCQ-LP in Massachusetts, the FCC has ordered Lighthouse to pay a fine of $8800 for violating underwriting laws and for operating outside the parameters of certain technical aspects of their license. This process began with allegations of interference from Saga Communications who were petitioning the FCC to revoke the LPFM’s license.  During the process, it was discovered that Lighthouse was indeed violating Underwriting Laws in their on-air acknowledgments.  Lighthouse has also been ordered to provide the FCC with a “three-year compliance plan to avoid future violations of the law and rules governing underwriting announcements.”
Furthermore, the FCC provides a reminder of what constitutes proper Underwriting Acknowledgement in the order:
 
The Underwriting Laws define advertisements as program material broadcast “in exchange for any remuneration” and intended to “promote any service, facility, or product,” of for-profit entities.4 Section 399B(b)(2) specifically provides that noncommercial educational stations may not broadcast advertisements.5 Although contributors of funds to such stations may receive on-air acknowledgements of their support, the Commission has held that such acknowledgements are for identification purposes only, and must not promote the contributors’ products, services, or businesses.6 Specifically, such announcements must not contain comparative or qualitative descriptions, price information, calls to action, or inducements to buy, sell, rent, or lease.7
 
The entire Order and Consent Decree may be accessed here and here.
 
For more information about Underwriting Acknowledgment, templates, and examples, contact our office.