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WMBR Underwriting Policy

Overview

WMBR enjoys status as an FCC-licensed, non-commercial radio station.

As a non-commercial station, WMBR may not engage in on-air advertising. This means that we may not accept money, goods or services in exchange for on-air promotion of a for-profit company.

However, the FCC allows non-commercial stations to air acknowledgements of contributions, provided that they meet certain requirements. These are called underwriting announcements.

Underwriting announcements must serve identification purposes only and should not promote the contributor's products, services, or company. Accordingly, such announcements may not contain comparative or qualitative descriptions; price information; calls to action; inducements to buy, sell, rent or lease; or otherwise be promotional in nature.

WMBR's underwriting policy is shaped by the following three tenets:

  • The FCC underwriting rules are vague in nature and rulings on violations by the FCC can be subjective and inconsistent.
  • Fines for underwriting violations can be tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Revenue derived from underwriting donations is quite small compared with other fundraising efforts at WMBR (and is quite small compared with the potential fines for rule violations).
For these reasons, WMBR will adopt a conservative approach to underwriting policy.

Underwriting Policy

Underwriting Contract

An underwriting contract must be in place before WMBR may accept any underwriting contributions or before any underwriting announcements may be aired. This means:

No DJ, host, announcer, producer, or station member may accept money, goods, or services in echange for anything said or played on the air on WMBR without an underwriting contract signed by the Underwriting Director.

The underwriting contract will include the dates and times that the underwriting announcements will be made on the air, as well as the exact text of the announcements.

Term of Contract

WMBR has three seasons of programming that co-incide with the MIT academic calendar. Programs are renewed each season at the discretion of the WMBR Programming Board. For that reason, the term of any underwriting contract may only extend to the end of the current programming season.

Inappropriate Underwriting

All underwriting contracts and the language of the on-air announcements must conform to FCC rules, as interpreted by the WMBR Underwriting Director.

In addition to careful adherance to FCC rules, WMBR does not wish to foster potential conflicts of interest, or the appearance of conflicts of interest with regards to the funder's influence on WMBR's programming or the funder's relationship with WMBR station personnel.

WMBR also does not allow underwriting announcements that promote a political candidate or positions on public policy.

Potential underwriting agreements may be rejected by the Underwriting Director, the Management Board, or members of the Technology Broadcasting Corporation if, for any reason, those parties believe the agreement would be inappropriate for WMBR.

Cooperation of Program Producers

WMBR's obligations with regards to an underwriting contract will rely on the cooperation of the producers of the shows on which the announcements will air. For this reason, all underwriting contracts must also be accompanied by a written agreement with the hosts, DJs and producers of the radio program on which the announcement will air.

The producers of a radio program may choose not to sign an agreement, in which case, the underwriting announcement may not be aired on that radio show.

If the producers of a radio program opt to air an underwriting announcement on their show, up to 50% of the funds, goods or services donated by the underwriter may be earmarked for benefit of that show. For example, if a Chinese music show airs an underwriting announcement, part of the money from that agreement can be used to acquire Chinese music for that program.

All funds, goods, or services acquired through underwriting agreements become the property of WMBR Radio. No funds, goods, or services may be collected by individual station members.

Because WMBR's schedule is subject to change at the start of each programming season, the term of underwriting contracts may not span more than one season.

Guidelines for Underwriting Announcements

Underwriters of the programming on WMBR are legally required to be identified. Although contributors receive on-air acknowledgements, the Federal Communications Commission has unequivocally stated that such acknowledgements may be made "for identification purposes only and should not promote the contributor's products, services, or company." Accordingly, such announcements may not contain comparative or qualitative descriptions, price information, calls to action, or inducements to buy, sell, rent or lease.

FCC guidelines specifically prohibit non-commercial stations from broadcasting announcements that promote the sale of goods and services of for-profit entities in exchange for consideration paid to the station.

Underwriting announcements must be one or two sentences with a total of twenty-five words or less and can state your name, location and describe your product or service. A single phone number is permitted, with that number counting as one word. Websites are permitted, but are counted as the number of words it contains. Dot-com or dot-org, etc., count as one word.

The company's name may appear only once in each announcement and the words "you," "your," "we" and "our" are not permitted.

Following an introductory phrase ("For their generous contribution, WMBR wishes to thank..."), an announcement might read as in these examples:

  • Gerber and Hawthorne, providing financial, business, estate, tax and investment planning services to clients throughout the Northeast - on the web at gerber-hawthorne dot-com.
  • Mercury Electric, a showroom of home and industrial lighting solutions, with locations in Braintree, Malden, and Winchester.
  • Maria's Taqueria, serving traditional and non-traditional Mexican fare for lunch and dinner, with locations in Harvard, Central, and Davis Squares - marias-tacos dot-com.
  • Labyrinth Records, selling new and used records, CDs, comic books, T-shirts and toys in downtown Boston and at the MIT Student Center.

The text of all underwriting announcements must be approved by the WMBR Underwriting Director

Underwriting Rates

One on-air announcement will be made for each $50 of cash contribution.

One on-air announcement will be made for each $100 of contribution in the form of donated goods or services.

Contact

Questions about underwriting on WMBR may be directed to the Underwriting director at , or by calling 617-253-4000 and leaving a message.

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