Ingredients: The fastest way for a non-commercial station to ruin the SOPA is by putting in stuff that “no way, José” should ever be in it. You would never put bleach or gasoline in a caldo. Advertisements in your non-commercial SOPA can be just as lethal.
1. What is Underwriting?
The Communications Act governs all of noncommercial stations. It requires that
- when a sponsor provides your noncommercial station with consideration (money, tickets to a concert, or providing janitorial services, etc) in exchange for transmitting any program matter,
- your station must announce that programming was paid for or furnished by funds, goods or services provided by that sponsor. You don’t have to say what they provided, but you must announce that they support you.
2. What is Advertising?
Advertising, which is strictly forbidden on your non-commercial station, is any message
- broadcast in exchange for remuneration. So far, this is exactly like underwriting but the critical difference is that advertising is
- intended to 1) promote any service, facility or product offered by any person for profit or 2) to express the views of any person on any matter of public importance or interest or 3) to support or oppose any candidate for political office.
3. Restriction: It’s All In the Wording
The Communication Act prohibits your station from advertising but requires you to identify sponsors, subject to certain restrictions. The difference between an announcement and an advertisement is in the wording. The A in SOPA stands for announcement (required by the FCC) not advertisement (forbidden by the FCC).
If your station has decided to engage in underwriting, you can make a Sabrosa SOPA, but be very careful when mixing the ingredients. You need to have station guidelines, a basic recipe for your SOPA that establishes rules, regulations and procedures. If you don’t have guidelines, start researching the topic.