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                           Before the
                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554

      
In the Matter of                                  )
                                        )
SOUTHERN RHODE ISLAND                   )  File No. 99070036
PUBLIC RADIO BROADCASTING, INC.         )  
                                        )      NAL/Acct.      No. 
x32080016  
Licensee, Noncommercial Educational Station WBLQ(FM)   )
Westerly, Rhode Island                       )


          NOTICE OF APPARENT LIABILITY FOR  FORFEITURE


Adopted:  May 5, 2000                             Released:   May 
9, 2000

By the Chief, Enforcement Bureau:

                        I.  Introduction

     1.   In this  Notice of  Apparent Liability  for  Forfeiture 
(``NAL''), we  find  that  Southern  Rhode  Island  Public  Radio 
Broadcasting,  Inc.  (``Southern  Rhode  Island''),  licensee  of 
noncommercial  educational  station   WBLQ(FM),  has   apparently 
violated Section  399B  of the  Communications  Act of  1934,  as 
amended (``the  Act''), and  Section 73.503  of the  Commission's 
rules,1 by  broadcasting  impermissible  donor  and  underwriting 
announcements.   We  conclude  that  Southern  Rhode  Island   is 
apparently liable for a forfeiture in the amount of one  thousand 
dollars ($1,000).
 
                         II.  Background
     
     2.   In this case, we  received information suggesting  that 
various announcements  broadcast by  Station WBLQ(FM)  appear  to 
promote  the  products,  services  or  businesses  of  for-profit 
enterprises.  In response to this information, we issued a letter 
of inquiry to Southern Rhode Island dated September 21, 1999.

     3.   In its October 21,  1999, reply, Southern Rhode  Island 
concedes  that   the  sponsored   underwriting   acknowledgements 
described in  our letter  of  inquiry were  broadcast.   Southern 
Rhode  Island   argues,   however,   that   because   the   cited 
announcements contained factually accurate information, they  are 
not promotional in nature, and were broadcast in accordance  with 
the applicable  Commission  guidelines  and  the  ``good  faith'' 
discretion afforded  noncommercial  broadcasters.   The  licensee 
also believes that  the announcement made  for King's Cyclery  is 
permissible because its text does not compare, call to action, or 
mention price.2   Finally, Southern  Rhode Island  contends  that 
since the content of its underwriting announcements is similar to 
that of other local noncommercial broadcasters, it should not  be 
punished even if its broadcasts are  found to be in violation  of 
the pertinent Commission rules.  
     
                        III.  Discussion

     4.   Section 399B  of the  Act,  as implemented  by  Section 
73.503 of  the  Commission's rules,  prohibits  public  broadcast 
stations from  broadcasting advertisements.   Advertisements  are 
defined by the Act as program material broadcast "in exchange for 
any remuneration" and intended to "promote any service, facility, 
or product" of for-profit entities.  47 U.S.C.  399B.   Although 
contributors of funds to a noncommercial station may receive  on-
air acknowledgements,  the  Commission has  unequivocally  stated 
that  such  acknowledgements  may  be  made  for   identification 
purposes only and should not promote the contributor's  products, 
services, or business.  Specifically, such announcements may  not 
contain   comparative   or   qualitative   descriptions,    price 
information, calls to action, or  inducements to buy, sell,  rent 
or lease.  See Public  Notice, "In the  Matter of the  Commission 
Policy  Concerning  the   Noncommercial  Nature  of   Educational 
Broadcasting Stations" (1986), republished, 7 FCC Rcd 827 (1992).  
The Commission has  ``recognize[d] that  it may  be difficult  to 
distinguish at times between announcements that promote and those 
that identify.  We only expect our public broadcast licensees  to 
exercise their reasonable, good faith judgments in this regard.''  
Xavier University,  5 FCC  Rcd  4920 (1990)  (quoting  Commission 
Policy  Concerning  the   Noncommercial  Nature  of   Educational 
Broadcast Stations, 90  FCC 2d  895 (1982)).   As the  Commission 
made clear  in Xavier,  announcements will  not be  deemed to  be 
impermissible where the ``language at issue . . .  is not clearly 
promotional as  opposed to  identifying and  . .  . the  licensee 
exercised reasonable, good faith judgment regarding the language. 
. .  .''

     5.   We have reviewed the record  in light of the  ``clearly 
promotional/good faith'' standard set forth by the Commission  in 
Xavier.   We   find  that   the   station's  broadcast   of   the 
announcements identified  in the  Attachment  to this  Notice  of 
Apparent Liability exceeded what is permissible under Xavier, and 
that Southern Rhode Island broadcast impermissible advertisements 
for the benefit of for-profit entities, in apparent violation  of 
Section 399B of the Act,  and Section 73.503 of the  Commission's 
rules.  In  this  regard, the  identified  announcements  contain 
clearly promotional  references  that  provide  prohibited  price 
information, product  or  service  comparisons,  and  qualitative 
descriptions, and exceed the  ``good faith'' discretion  afforded 
under Xavier. 
 
     6.   Southern Rhode Island  argues that  it employed  ``good 
faith'' in  formulating the  subject announcements  based on  its 
understanding that announcements  that convey factually  accurate 
information are permissible, and that references to discounts are 
acceptable, so  long  as they  do  not specifically  mention  the 
price.   Contrary  to  the  licensee's  assertion,  the  use   of 
comparative, qualitative  descriptive  language is  not  rendered 
non-promotional  and  permissible  merely  because  the   message 
conveyed  is  factually  accurate.   Moreover,  prohibited  price 
information includes  not only  specific price  information,  but 
also sponsor discounts, and products  or services offered by  the 
sponsor at no  cost or  ``free.''  See   Xavier; Public  Notice.3  
Viewed in their  full context, the  attached segments clearly  go 
well beyond  ``identification''  as permitted  in  Xavier.   They 
contain  specific  product  descriptions,  suggestions  of  price 
discounts, calls  to  action and  clear  inducements  encouraging 
listeners to buy or try particular products.  Thus, for  example, 
in the station's live remote broadcast from Urso's Auto  Village, 
the underwriter's inducements, such as ``enormous discounts''  on 
merchandise, are  recited in  connection  with the  event.   Such 
inducements  appear  to  promote  impermissibly  the   for-profit 
entity's sales event.   That other  local noncommercial  stations 
have broadcast announcements similar to  those in question in  no 
way excuses or mitigates the apparent instant violations.
 
     7.   We are also concerned that  the licensee has not  taken 
corrective  measures   regarding   its   defective   underwriting 
announcements. Although Southern Rhode Island asserts that it  is 
not fully versed regarding the Commission's noncommercial  rules, 
it is  nevertheless responsible  for  complying with  them.   The 
Commission has consistently held that ignorance of the  pertinent 
statute and rules will not excuse a licensee from its  obligation 
to operate  a  station  in  compliance  with  the  terms  of  its 
authorization and  the Commission's  rules.  Empire  Broadcasting 
Corp., 25 FCC  2d 68 (1970).   Additionally, licensees cannot  be 
excused from responsibility  for the  acts of  their managers  or 
employees. Id.  Consequently, we find that Southern Rhode  Island 
has apparently violated  Section 399B of  the Communications  Act 
and  Section   73.503  of   the  Commission's   rules   regarding 
permissible donor and underwriting announcements on noncommercial 
educational stations, for the reasons set forth above.4  From the 
information supplied, it appears that the announcements were made 
on behalf  of five  underwriters  identified in  the  Attachment, 
broadcast repeatedly  since  January,  1999, and  were  aired  in 
exchange for monetary or trade remuneration.

     8.   In assessing this  monetary forfeiture,  we have  taken 
into account the nature, circumstances, extent and gravity of the 
violations, the degree of culpability,  as well as the  station's 
prior  enforcement   history.   Section   503(b)(2)(D)   of   the 
Communications  Act  of   1934,  as  amended,   47  U.S.C.   Sec. 
503(b)(2)(D).  We  note  that the  Forfeiture  Policy  Statement5 
provides for  a  forfeiture of  $2,000  as the  base  amount  for 
violation of  the enhanced  underwriting requirements.   In  this 
case, we believe that a  forfeiture of $1,000 is appropriate  due 
to the prior unblemished enforcement record of the licensee. 

                      IV.  Ordering Clauses

     9.   ACCORDINGLY, IT IS  ORDERED THAT,  pursuant to  Section 
503(b) of  the  Communications  Act  of  1934,  as  amended,  and 
Sections 0.111,  0.311  and  1.80  of  the  Commission's  rules,6 
Southern Rhode Island Public Radio Broadcasting, Inc.,  licensee, 
noncommercial  educational  Station  WBLQ(FM),  Westerly,   Rhode 
Island,  is  hereby  NOTIFIED  of  its  APPARENT  LIABILITY   FOR 
FORFEITURE in the amount of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00)  for 
willfully and  repeatedly violating  47 U.S.C.  Section 399b  and 
Section 73.503 of the Commission's rules.

     10.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED, pursuant to Section 1.80 of  the 
Commission's rules, that  within thirty  days of  the release  of 
this Notice, Southern Rhode Island SHALL PAY to the United States 
the full  amount  of the  proposed  forfeiture or  SHALL  FILE  a 
written  statement  seeking  reduction  or  cancellation  of  the 
proposed forfeiture.

     11.  Payment of the  forfeiture may be  made by credit  card 
through the  Commission's Credit  and Debt  Management Center  at 
(202) 418-1995,  or by  mailing a  check or  similar  instrument, 
payable to the order of the Federal Communications Commission, to 
the Federal Communications Commission,  P.O. Box 73482,  Chicago, 
Illinois 60673-7482.  The payment should note the file number  of 
this proceeding.

     12.  The  response,   if  any,   must  be   mailed  to   the 
Commission's Investigations  and Hearings  Division,  Enforcement 
Bureau, 445 Twelfth Street, S.W.,  Room 3 B443, Washington,  D.C. 
20554, and MUST INCLUDE the file number referenced above.

     13.  The Commission will not consider reducing or  canceling 
a forfeiture in response  to a claim of  inability to pay  unless 
the petitioner  submits: (1)  federal tax  returns for  the  most 
recent  three-year  period;  (2)  financial  statements  prepared 
according to generally accepted accounting practices  (``GAAP''); 
or (3)  some  other  reliable and  objective  documentation  that 
accurately reflects  the petitioner's  current financial  status.  
Any claim  of inability  to pay  must specifically  identify  the 
basis for the claim by  reference to the financial  documentation 
submitted.

     14.  Requests for payment of the full amount of this  Notice 
of Apparent Liability  under an installment  plan should be  sent 
to: Chief, Credit and Debt Management Center, 445 Twelfth Street, 
S.W., Washington, D.C.7

     15.  IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that a copy of this Notice  shall 
be sent,  by  Certified  Mail --  Return  Receipt  Requested,  to 
Southern Rhode Island  Public Radio Broadcasting,  Inc., 4  Canal 
Street, Westerly, Rhode Island  02891. 


                              FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION



                              David H. Solomon
                              Chief, Enforcement Bureau


     































                           ATTACHMENT

     The  following  text  was  taken  from  audiotapes  of   the 
announcements broadcast May 28, 1999 and June 25, 1999.


1.   King's Cyclery  (75 seconds)

[Announcement spoken over musical background.]

Steven:   Hi,  I  am  Steven  King  from  ``King's  Cyclery''  in 
Spindrift Village, Dunn's Corner.  The warm weather is here,  and 
we are ready with the  latest in bicycles, gear and  accessories.  
One of  our  newest  recumbent  bicycles  is  ``Bikee.''   In  my 
opinion, it's a very relaxing and comfortable bike, in which  one 
sits on a soft-padded chair with handlebars and peddles in front.  
The  other  new   recumbent  which  WBLQ's   own  Chris   DiPaulo 
experienced is ``Vision.''

Steven:  Chris, how did you like it?

Chris:  Oh, Steve, I loved it.  Like ``Bikee,'' it's relaxing and 
comfortable.  But, as you  know, Steve, I could  stand to lose  a 
few pounds.  ``Vision'' is perfect for me because it's also  good 
exercise.  You can adjust tension and the handlebars are uniquely 
placed right next  to where  I sit, and  the peddles  are out  in 
front.

Steven:  Well, there you have  it.  You can find these  recumbent 
bikes and all other  kinds of bicycles,  gear and accessories  as 
well as a  model-train department  at ``King's  Cyclery'' in  the 
Spindrift Village  in  Dunn's  Corner.   And I  am  proud  to  be 
supporting local community radio on 88.1 WBLQ.

Chris:  Steve, what is your phone number.

Steven:  It's funny you should ask, Chris.  It's 322-6005.


2.   Nigrelli's Jewelry  (55 seconds)

For over 50 years, locals have depended on ``Nigrelli's Jewelry'' 
in downtown Westerly for service, repairs, and sales of  jewelry. 
``Nigrelli's Jewelry''  provides all kinds of repairs,  including 
repairing those wrist-bands on watches, and other watch  repairs.  
They have  watch batteries,  they also  do all  kinds of  jewelry 
repairs including  ring  repairs,  sizing and  more.   The  phone 
number at ``Nigrelli's Jewelry''  is 596-4421.  That's  596-4421. 
``Nigrelli's Jewelry'' reminds you  that the birthstone for  June 
is ``pearl,'' and all  pearl items are  available at a  different 
price at ``Nigrelli's Jewelry.''  That's ``Nigrelli's  Jewelry,'' 
27 High Street, in downtown Westerly.  Serving the local area for 
over 50 years. ``Nigrelli's Jewelry,'' another proud  contributor 
to local programming on 88.1 WBLQ. 

3.   Urso's Auto Village (65 seconds)

[The following are prefatory lyrics set to music]:

It's the excitement, it's the freedom, it's the feeling of pride, 
when you're ready  for adventure,  come ride.  The  open road  is 
calling, no one knows it like we do.  And we've got all the  gear 
to make it  happen for  you.  `Cause once  you've found  freedom, 
it's a  feeling for  life .  . .  it's the  excitement, it's  the 
freedom, it's  the  feeling  of  pride,  when  you're  ready  for 
adventure, come ride.

[The following is the text of the announcement itself]:

Rich Urso and  David page  are ready for  summer.  ``Urso's  Auto 
Village,'' located on  Granite Street on  Route 1, Westerly,  has 
sports cars,  family vehicles,  sport utilities  and foreign  and 
domestic vehicles.  There are enormous discounts available.   For 
more information, you can call 348-0200.  Join Chris DiPaulo  and 
Ken Collins  for a  live  broadcast on  Saturday June  26,  1999.  
There'll be give-aways  and lots  of fun.   That's ``Urso's  Auto 
village,'' located on Granite Street  on Route 1, Westerly,  348-
0200.

 [Closing repeats lyrics and music.]

4.   MP's Automotive Electronics  (55 seconds)

[Announcement spoken over musical background.]

The summer months are  unofficially here.  Just picture  yourself 
driving along  Atlantic Avenue  on  a beautiful  summer's  night, 
sunroof down, talking  on your  car phone, and  cranking out  the 
tunes in your superb  sound system without a  care in the  world.  
Sounds nice, but a common concern for this scenario is - ``can  I 
afford all of this?''

``MP's of Westerly,'' the car  phone store next to ``Auto  Zone'' 
on Granite Street,  makes it  easy.  Craig  can help  you find  a 
sound system and  fix you up  with a sunroof  that will fit  your 
budget.  The  cell-phones  have a  fixed  monthly rate,  in  both 
Connecticut and  Rhode Island,  with  digital choice  and  choice 
single-rate plans.  MP's of Westerly, the car phone store next to 
``Auto  Zone''  on  Granite  Street,  348-3071.   Another   proud 
contributor to programming on WBLQ.








5.   Villa Trombino Restaurant & Lounge  (75 seconds)

[Announcement spoken over musical background.]

What's the matter?  Are you afraid you going to lose her?   Well, 
don't worry anymore.  ``The  Villa Trombino'' can help.   They've 
got dinners for  two at  ``The Villa  Trombino.''  That's  right, 
dinner for two.  Sure to save a long-lasting relationship.  ``The 
Villa Trombino'' has all kinds of dinners for two, like prime-rib 
of  beef,  shrimp  frantiable,   fresh  veal  parmesan,   chicken 
marcella, stuffed lobsters, surf and turf.  And everything  comes 
with potato, vegetable and pasta.  They also have premium bottles 
of wine,  like Cinella's  Chardonnay,  Ernest and  Julio  Gallo's 
White Zinfandel.

``The Villa Trombino Restaurant.''   Dinners for two.  Take  your 
honey out, you can do it  at ``The Villa Trombino.'' ``The  Villa 
Trombino'' has been  serving the  local area for  over 25  years.  
Bennie and Anna Trombino have  been cooking up home-style  meals, 
just  like  the  old  country,  since  the  beginning.   And  the 
tradition continues.   They have  ``early  bird'' specials  at  4 
until 6 p.m.,  and their bar's  open most nights  `til 1:00  a.m. 
``The Villa Trombino,'' in business  for over 25 years, Route  3, 
just 2   miles from downtown  Westerly. ``The Villa  Trombino,'' 
another proud contributor to local programming on WBLQ.
_________________________

1 47 U.S.C. Sec. 399b and 47 C.F.R. Sec. 73.503.

2 The licensee further argues that because broadcast references 
to ``discounts'' offered by underwriters do not contain specific 
price information, they should be deemed permissible.

3 On page 4 of the Public Notice, the Commission also stated that 
announcements containing an inducement to buy, sell, rent or 
lease are not permissible.
 
4 Compare Xavier, supra, where the Commission did not impose a 
sanction for a single prohibited announcement of limited duration 
because, among other things, the licensee took prompt corrective 
action in response to the Commission's initial inquiry.

5 In the Matter of the Commission's Forfeiture Policy Statement 
and Amendment of Section 1.80 of the Rules to Incorporate the 
Forfeiture Guidelines, 12 FCC Rcd 17087 (1997), recon. denied, 15 
FCC Rcd 303 (1999).

6 See  47 C.F.R. Secs. 0.111, 0.311 and 1.80.

7 See 47 C.F.R. Sec. 1.1914.