$25k Fine Over WBAI Is Latest Pacifica Foundation Headache


The FCC’s Media Bureau and the Pacifica Foundation, the licensee of WBAI in New York, have entered into a Consent Decree to conclude an investigation into the station’s compliance with federal underwriting and sponsorship identification regulations.

Under the agreement, Pacifica will adhere to a two-year, short-term license renewal for WBAI and commit to implementing a comprehensive compliance plan to meet its sponsorship and underwriting obligations moving forward. Additionally, Pacifica has agreed to pay a $25,000 civil penalty to the United States Treasury.

The investigation, which examined broadcasts from June 2014 to April 2022, was initiated after allegations that the station aired content that improperly promoted for-profit underwriters’ products and services without proper sponsorship disclosures. These included comparative and qualitative descriptions, pricing information, and calls to action, contrary to FCC regulations that maintain the non-commercial nature of educational stations like WBAI.

The Consent Decree resolves these issues and aims to prevent future violations, ensuring that WBAI adheres to the legal standards set for non-commercial broadcasters.

This is the latest loss for Pacifica, who has faced trouble for $1.8 million in back rent owed to the New York City-based Empire State Realty Trust and a lawsuit filed by listeners, volunteers, and donors of Pacifica radio in California against the broadcaster’s board of directors for malfeasance and mismanagement.


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