FCC Eyes Fund-Raising Rule for Education Channels

Third party fund raising is among five issues listed on the April 27 meeting agenda
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At it next open meeting, the U.S Federal Communications Commission plans to discuss a possible rule regulating education channels’ on-air fund raising for third-party non-profit organizations.

Third party fund raising is among five issues listed on the tentative agenda for that meeting, which is scheduled for April 27, at the FCC’s headquarters in Washington. The agenda fund-raising listing says:

“Noncommercial Educational Station Fundraising for Third-Party Non-Profit OrganizationsNotice of Proposed Rulemaking: The commission will consider a notice of proposed rulemaking inviting comment on whether to allow noncommercial educational broadcast stations to conduct on-air fundraising activities that interrupt regular programming for the benefit of third-party non-profit organizations.”

While the FCC says it is considering an education channel fund-raising regulation, it does not indict if a proposed rule would ban such fund-raising activities, or regulate them.

However, American Community Television—a public, education and government channel advocacy group—says PEG channels are “critical” to local non-profit organizations’ fund raising, so PEG channel should be exempt from efforts to curb those activities.

Such fund-raising efforts conducted by PEG channels have included the access channel in Sacramento, Calif. broadcasting a telethon during 2005 to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts and the access station in Plymouth, Mass. broadcasting a telethon during 2011 to support tsunami relief efforts in Japan, according to Bunnie Riedel, ACT’s executive director.

There is not a lot of third-party fund raising by PEG channels, but those channels should “have the freedom” to conduct fund raising efforts, Riedel said. Therefore, ACT is going to seek an exemption for PEG channels from any rule seeking to regulate those activities, she said.