What are the relevant federal statutes?

There are two specific federal statutes that apply to underwriting on public braodcasting. To (Note: To view the statutes cited below in full and to find out more about FCC policy requirements, visit the FCC Web site here

  1. What is an "advertisement?
  2. Why must underwriters be announced on the air?

What is an “advertisement”?

47 USC Section 399B (the Communications Act of 1934, as amended):

 This statute defines an advertisement as: “any message or other programming material which is broadcast or otherwise transmitted in exchange for any remuneration, and which is intended:

  1. to promote any service, facility, or product offered by any person who is engaged in such offering for profit;
  2. to express the views of any person with respect to any matter of   public importance or interest; or
  3. to support or oppose any candidate for political office.”

Why must underwriters be announced on the air?

47 USC Section 317 – Sponsorship Identification:

This statute requires that “all matter broadcast … for which any money, service or other valuable consideration is directly or indirectly paid, or promised to or charged or accepted by, the station so broadcasting, from any person, shall, at the time the same is so broadcast, be announced as paid for or furnished, as the case may be, by such person.”

As we are reminded by a recent FCC Public Notice (April 13, 2005 -- addressing the use of video news releases, among other things), this section of the Communications Act, along with Section 507 and related federal regulations, are disclosure requirements “grounded in the principle that listeners and viewers are entitled to know who seeks to persuade them with the programming offered over broadcast stations.”