Communications Act Compliance

This document explains important provisions of the Communications Act of 1934, 47 U.S.C. §396, et seq. (Communications Act or Act) that apply to public broadcasting stations receiving a Community Service Grant (CSG) from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). It also references related requirements established by CPB’s General Provisions and Eligibility Criteria (the General Provisions). It does not supersede other provisions of the Act, specific terms of CPB grants, or other laws and regulations applicable to grantees. CSG recipients should consult their legal counsel for guidance in complying with specific provisions of the Act and other legal requirements.

In their annual CSG Agreement and Certification of Eligibility, Grantees must certify that they comply with the Communications Act, the General Provisions, CPB’s Financial Reporting Guidelines and the Application of Principles of Accounting and Financial Reporting Applicable to Public Telecommunications Entities. This annual certification must be signed by two individuals: the head of the grantee and the licensee official. The head of the grantee is the highest ranking representative of the station’s management responsible for station operations, such as its president and chief executive officer. Licensee official means the chair of the stations licensee’s governing board, or a designated senior level representative of the licensee who is not a member of the station’s management and who has the authority to enter into binding contracts and agreements on behalf of the licensee.

To ensure compliance, the Act enables CPB and its representatives, including the Inspector General, to audit grantees, including the right of access to their “books, documents, papers and records” (§396(l) (3) (D)). Stations may therefore find it helpful to develop procedures for documenting their compliance with each requirement. Such procedures would support consistency in a station’s compliance, the accuracy of its annual certification to CPB, and evidence that may be useful to demonstrate compliance in the event of a station audit.

Failure to comply with the Communications Act and CPB’s Certification Requirements may result in penalties, including forfeiture of all or part of a recipient’s CSG funding, under CPB’s CSG Non-Compliance Policy.

Download the Requirements

General Provisions