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FCC will let public radio raise money for Haitian relief

The Federal Communications Commission normally bars Noncommercial Educational Radio (NCE) stations from using the airwaves to raise money for any cause besides their own operation. But the FCC granted waivers from this rule following the 9/11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina, and now it’s doing the same for stations that want to raise relief cash following yesterday’s horrific earthquake in Haiti.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Haiti during this terrible tragedy,” declared FCC Chair Julius Genachowski in a statement released minutes ago. “A number of noncommercial broadcasters have asked for permission to raise funds for relief efforts, which we are happy to give. The Media Bureau has posted procedures for any noncommercial TV or radio station to obtain expedited approval for such fundraising. These temporary waivers will help tap the American spirit of generosity in this time of great need to aid Haitian relief efforts.”

If you are a community, public, or college station, here the instructions (below) for contacting the FCC and getting that waiver. But as you search for agencies to send the money you raised, keep in mind an Federal Bureau of Investigation warning we also just received. There are a lot of Internet fraudsters out there looking to take advantage of good hearted people. So watch who you work with.

Please see the below released by the Media Bureau today.


The Commission generally prohibits noncommercial educational stations from engaging in on-air fundraising activities on behalf of any entity other than the station itself. See 47 C.F.R. § 73.503(d). See also Commission Policy Concerning the Noncommercial Nature of Educational Broadcast Stations, 90 FCC 2d 895, 907 (1982). The Commission, however, has granted rule waivers for fundraising appeals to support relief efforts following disasters of particular uniqueness or magnitude, such as Hurricanes Andrew and Katrina, the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City, and the January 2005 tsunami in Southeast Asia. These waivers have been issued for a specific fundraising program or programs, or for sustained station appeals for periods which generally do not exceed several days.

Should a licensee wish to solicit contributions from viewers or listeners for the Haiti relief efforts, it may file an informal request for a Section 73.503(d) waiver as follows:

1) The licensee may submit an electronic mail request to Barbara Kreisman(, if the request involves a television station, or to Michael Wagner (, if the request involves a radio station.
2) The request should provide basic details of the fundraising activity:
a. the nature of the fundraising effort;
b. the proposed duration of the fundraising effort;
c. the organization(s) to which funds will be donated; and
d. whether the fundraiser will be part of the licensee’s regularly scheduledpledge drive or fundraising effort.

For additional information, please contact the television or radio contact provided above.


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