Public Media Policybase

NPR Underwriting Guidelines, as of 2000

Undated document supplied by NPR, January 2000.

No Commercial Obligations or Influence

NPR is an independent, nonprofit organization that carries no on-air advertising. One of the ways NPR helps fund its programming and general operations is by seeking underwriting support from corporations, foundations and associations. These tax-deductible donations provide virtually all of NPR’s contributed income.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations govern all underwriting announcements by NPR and public radio stations. The regulations require NPR and stations to provide on-air recognition of funders while stipulating that these credit announcements are strictly for identification; they cannot be promotional.

In establishing its on-air credit guidelines, NPR is sensitive to the expectations of the public radio audience and NPR member stations. Indeed, many public radio stations have themselves adopted NPR’s underwriting guidelines. NPR also remains faithful to public radio’s mandate to provide educational, cultural and informational programs independent of commercial obligations or influence.

Principles for Acknowledging Support

Funds may be accepted from any source. However, NPR reserves the right to turn down funding if there is any conflict of interest or possible perception of influence on program content.

Underwriters are identified by mention of their legal or recognized name. Additional information may be used to further clarify identification but should not promote donors’ companies, products or services.

Acknowledgments should not interrupt the continuity of the programs or detract from the content or sound quality of the programs with which they are associated.

All program content and editorial decisions related to distribution of NPR programs are the sole responsibility of NPR.

Specifications for On-Air Credits

Credits are 10 seconds long.

Credits include the organization or company name, the name of a subsidiary, operating division or parent company, and additional language which further clarifies the identity of the underwriter. This language may contain:

  • A neutral description of products or services
  • A recognized corporate slogan that identifies the company or products
  • A statement of business locations, a World Wide Web address, or a toll-free phone number
  • The organization’s mission
  • A mention of the particular NPR programming being supported (ex: “for coverage of Eastern Europe…”)
  • The duration of the business or service (ex: “providing services to businesses for over 50 years…”)
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