WHY DOES NON-COMMERCIAL NPR SELL COMMERCIAL RADIO BROADCAST ADVERTISEMENTS TO BIG CORPORATIONS?
NPR Governance — Is There Any?
NPR is a membership organization. Member stations are required to be non-commercial or non-commercial educational radio stations — as in zero pre-recorded or advertiser hosted advertisements, only brief verbal paid “mentions” are allowed,” identifying the “underwriter,’ and not detailing for 15 or 30 seconds the wares or services at length so as to be confused with typical commercial radio station broadcasts.
TO LATE TO DENY A LIE?
To oversee the day-to-day operations and prepare its budget, members elect a Board of Directors, and presumably they are there also to be certain there are no NPR member non-commercial stations selling and broadcasting traditional radio style advertising commercials. This board is composed of ten A-Reps, five members of the general public, and the chair of the NPR Foundation, who apparently together lend their tacit approval to selling commercial radio ads via NPR member stations, since the practice seems to be growing, not reducing. One can only conclude it has something to do with the millions of dollars of NPR revenues generated by taking a “look the other way” attitude for as long as the money arrives un-challenged.
So, then, how do listeners explain to themselves that over the years since its inception, NPR has encouraged its members to flaunt the law governing their “NON-COMMERCIAL” status by increasing its obvious contradictory practices whereby non-commercial NPR stations play pre-recorded radio advertisements that sound exactly like radio commercials playing on for-profit AM & FM commercial radio stations?
The destruction to “play by the rules” commercial radio stations is immense. Hundreds of small radio stations have closed their doors when non-commercial NPR members began, back in the 1970’s, to attract local advertisers away from for-profit stations. “Underwriter” prospects at those NPR stations apparently re-defined their “Underwriter” relationships to allow their quasi-legal “ad sales reps” to under-cut local commercial radio station rate-cards.
Sound to conspiratorial to be real? It the opinion of many radio listeners –who have heard the growing number of commercial ads on NPR member stations greatly increase over the last decade — that legal entities have not
addressed these obvious inconsistent revenue behaviors with NPR simply because NPR in many ways an extension of the largess of USA funds during its inception. National Public Radio replaced the National Educational Radio Network on February 26, 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967.
Consequently, is it so difficult to believe that the US COURT entities take a blind look at NPR, so that organization can continue to exist — the repercussions being that more for-profit radio stations lose revenues, thus threatening their individual existence. How fair is that?
And here is how one leading NPR proponent explains away the illegal behaviors:
Hosts of the NPR program Planet Money stated the audience is indeed a product being sold to advertisers … in the same way as commercial stations … saying: “they are not advertisers exactly but, they have a lot of the same characteristics; let’s just say that.”
So, who is to blame for this uncontrollable dichotomy?
It’s easy to answer that questions. What’s the old saying about when a mess “rolls from the top down?
Those responsible (besides the operators of each NPR member station who allows such ad-sales conduct to occur) include, as of March 2015, all the Board of Directors of NPR, some current NPR members:
NPR Member Station Managers
Mike Crane, Director, Wisconsin Public Radio
Betsy Gardella, President and CEO, New Hampshire Public Radio
Kit Jensen, Chief Operating Officer WVIZ/PBS & 90.3 WCPN ideastream, Chair of the Board
Roger LaMay, General Manager, WXPN
Caryn Mathes, President and General Manager, KUOW
Greg Petrowich, Executive Director, WSIU Public Broadcasting
Florence Rogers, President and General Manager, Nevada Public Radio
Mike Savage, General Manager, WBAA
Kerry Swanson, Station Manager, Northwest Public Radio
Connie Walker, General Manager, WUNC
President of NPR
Jarl Mohn, President and CEO
Chair of the NPR Foundation
Howard Wollner, Senior Vice President, Retired, Starbucks Coffee Company
Public Members of the Board
Fabiola Arredondo, Managing Partner, Siempre Holdings
Chris Boskin, Media Company Consultant
Patricia Diaz Dennis, Senior Vice President and Assistant General Counsel, Retired, AT&T
Paul G. Haaga, Jr., Chairman of the Board, Retired, Capital Research and Management Company
John S. Wotowicz, Managing Partner of Concentric Capital, Vice Chair of the Board
Underwriting spots vs. commercials
In contrast with commercial broadcasting, NPR’s radio broadcasts are not authorized to carry traditional commercials. Their advertising is supposed to follow the detailed descriptions just ahead — NPR listeners should then ask themselves after reading the descriptions, if the commercials they hear on a NPR affiliate match the legal definition you are about to read:
“Advertising in the form of … brief statements … from major sponsors which may include corporate slogans, descriptions of products and services, contact information such as website addresses and telephone numbers; but they cannot advocate a product or “promote the goods and services” of for-profit entities.”
DECIDE FOR YOURSELF …
LISTEN TO NPR’s “OVERT COMMERCIAL RADIO ADS” — a couple of the radio ads NPR claims do not exist — HERE:
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