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Arizona college radio stations ask FCC for leeway on underwriting, again

It is once more into the breach for the Maricopa Community College District of Arizona, which is asking the Federal Communications Commission yet again for a waiver to broadcast more direct underwriting spots on its two radio stations. Maricopa operates jazz station KJZZ-FM and classical signal KBAQ-FM. Citing economic difficulties, it has been pressing the FCC a waiver to expand the range of underwriter announcements on its streams.

Specifically, the District requested a three year experimental window to provide “[f]actually accurate information concerning interest rates” from various underwriters, among them banks, credit unions, and automobile dealerships.

That’s currently an FCC underwriting rules no no for non-commercial educational stations. Following the rejection of the petition by the Audio Bureau, Maricopa’s lawyers have sent an Application for Review to the full Commission, asking for a reversal of the Audio division’s decision. ” . . . the Commission staff used the circular reasoning that the experiment could not be authorized because it violated the Commission’s basic rules which require strict compliance,” the document complains. “This of course ignores the fact that experiments, with related waivers, are intended to test reasonable initiatives outside the normal rules, but might nevertheless garner significant public interest benefits.”

Batman Monster Truck; wikipediaParts of the 25 page document are a fun read. Here’s a particularly spirited excerpt:

“For nearly 50 years, the Commission has enforced the §399B ban on advertising and regulated underwriting on NCE stations, based upon the premise that a relaxation of these standards will so corrupt public radio stations that they will – either readily or reluctantly – betray their educational, quality programming mission in the face of advertiser demands for larger audiences. This presumption, apparently shared by CPB, underlies the Commission’s underwriting rules and policies, as evidenced in the Media Bureau’s cursory rejection of Maricopa’s proposal. The presumption contends that, if allowed to advertise, public stations will abandon their mission, their formats, their nice demographics, rapidly sliding downhill to commercial hell-in-a-handbasket faster than NPR’s Robert Siegel can intone, ‘MONSTER TRUCKS! SUNDAY! COME ON DOWN!'”

#lol. I’ve got thoughts about this matter, which I’ll share next week when I’ve got a little more time to write. Meanwhile your thoughts are always welcome.

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