FCC fines Cesar Chavez Foundation over promotions on its radio stations

The Federal Communications Commission has levied a record fine against two farmworker radio stations in California and Arizona for overstepping restrictions against commercial advertising. The Cesar Chavez Foundation, a nonprofit social service affiliate of the United Farm Workers union, agreed to a $115,000 fine and a one-year moratorium on new underwriting from for-profit sponsors on the two stations. The stations — KUFW-FM (90.5) in Woodlake (CA) and KNAI-FM (88.3) in Phoenix — strayed from rules that allow educational stations to acknowledge underwriters without making "commercial" pitches for them, the FCC found. Those violations, from August 2016 to March 2017, involved promotional announcements that implicitly compared an underwriter's business with competitors', provided information about valuation and discounts, and urged listeners to contact a business. Examples included assuring listeners they could "trust" one car dealership, and listing services and products of specific cellphone companies, according to the FCC. And at 30 to 60 seconds, the announcements were too long, the agency said. Such violations "threaten to upset the reasonable balance between the financial needs of noncommercial educational stations and their obligation to provide an essentially noncommercial service," the FCC said.


FCC fines Cesar Chavez Foundation over promotions on its radio stations