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Policies and Standards

Policy on Political Advertising

WSHU does not accept political advertising, or underwriting announcements that are intended to promote political candidates; deliver messages intended to influence election outcomes (candidates, questions, referendums, or policies); or which come from/for political parties.

WSHU recognizes that the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Rules regarding "reasonable access" are inherently imprecise, and that commercial stations have generally interpreted them to mean that stations must make advertising time available to candidates. In light of the April 13, 2012, decision of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco that struck down the FCC ban on political advertising on public radio stations, WSHU reaffirms its long-standing position of not accepting any political advertising, and affirms its ban on paid political announcements. Further, it recognizes its legal and moral obligations to: provide "reasonable access;" to educate the electorate of the position of candidates on the issues; to provide debate, supply analysis, provide discussion on community issues, and to deliver the voices of qualified candidates.

In full support of the FCC's "equal opportunity" and "reasonable access" rules, WSHU shall aggressively work to provide listeners a full understanding of the issues and the positions of qualified candidates on these issues.

Policy on Airing of Bartered Programs, Program Hosts, and Community Talk Shows

In order to prevent any appearance of conflict of interest, promotional positions, commercialism, or favoritism: It is the policy of WSHU Public Radio to not accept or air bartered or leased time programs, or programs hosted by "experts." It is also the policy of the station that all "on-air staff" are employees of WSHU Public Radio, students employed as "work-study," student interns, in formal training programs, outside contractors (freelancers) and community volunteers who are in all ways perceived as professional, unbiased journalists (not as experts, entrepreneurs, business owners, business leaders, political leaders, or spokesmen for other organizations). Every attempt to provide balance and opposing viewpoints will be made.

Policy on use of Contributed Programs and Programming Materials:

It is the policy of WSHU Public Radio to not accept or air programs produced by organizations or foundations that hold advocacy positions. It is also the policy of the station that all news material aired or posted by the station is produced and vetted by journalists and editors in the News Department or by reputable news organizations (such as NPR, WBUR, WNYC, WAMU and AP) whose standards and policies have been reviewed by WSHU. Occasionally, some contributed material may be used by WSHU or these other reputable providers. When used, it will be given in the context of a larger news story and will be clearly identified as to its origin and purpose. Every attempt to provide balance and opposing viewpoints will be made.

Policy on Content of Underwriting Announcements

Underwriting announcements on WSHU are designed to recognize and encourage financial support of the WSHU Public Radio Group. The announcements are not designed to be forums, advocacy platforms, or statements of beliefs for issues, concerns, lifestyles, political positions, religions, etc. With this purpose in mind, WSHU reserves the right to refuse any announcements that it determines may have an adverse or deleterious effect on the radio station, listenership, listener support, or other financial support.

The standards governing acceptable underwriting practices for WSHU Public Radio are set forth in the rules and regulations of the F.C.C., the Underwriting Policies of National Public Radio, and the probations to certain categories required by the Board of Trustees of Sacred Heart University.

In addition to these rules and policies, WSHU management may set additional, prudent limitations on the type and content of underwriting messages to avoid potential conflict of interest, problems of listener misperception, confusion, overall listener sensitivity, or what it judges to be controversial, or not in good taste. In all cases, WSHU Management has the right to refuse any announcement or language it feels is inappropriate. WSHU does not accept underwriting messages from these groups:

  1. Candidates for political office. We will not accept sponsorship by political candidates, groups formed to influence election outcomes, or from political parties.
  2. 900 numbers, chat lines, or dating services, "text to" for a fee messages, fortune telling, occultism, astrology, phrenology, palm reading, or numerology, mind-reading, character readings, miracle solicitation, or subjects of the like nature. In all cases a reasonable listener test will be applied. WSHU's first priority is the trust of its listeners.
  3. Messages for 'Pro-Life' or 'Pro-Choice' services or organizations. Because WSHU is associated with Sacred Heart University, and this is an ongoing controversial issue, WSHU will not accept messages from clinics or organizations that directly promote or advocate a position on this issue.
  4. Advocacy groups with underwriting language that expresses an opinion on matters of public concern, or that otherwise advocates positions on controversial matters. While WSHU will carry underwriting messages by advocacy groups, in no circumstances will the language of an underwriting announcement express an opinion on matters of public concern or otherwise advocate positions on controversial matters. In all cases we will apply the reasonable listener standard, and consideration will be given to the nature of the organization and whether the organization has an interest in matters currently prominent in the news and the language of the announcement.
  5. Makers and distributors of alcoholic beverages that say more than simple identification. Sponsorship by makers and distributors of alcoholic beverages, including wine, beer and distilled spirits, are permitted. Underwriting language must be restrained in tone, and should not involve product descriptions, other than that necessary to identify the sponsor's line of business.
  6. Gambling, including internet, casinos, lotteries, and charity events. Underwriting by casinos that identify or describe their gambling activity is not permitted. Language that identifies a casino as a concert or a performance venue would be acceptable. References to "dream books," the "straight line," or other direct or indirect descriptions or solicitations relative to the "numbers game," or the "polity game," or any other form of gambling are prohibited.
  7. Tobacco products where the credit mentions the tobacco product(s) or required no smoking messages. Sponsorships from diversified companies engaged in the manufacture of tobacco products (e.g. Altria, formerly Philip Morris) are acceptable, but specific references to tobacco products are not allowed.
  8. Controversial companies. In order to ensure that there is no perceived conflict between underwriting and editorial content, WSHU will not accept underwriting from organizations that are currently experiencing significant and controversial news coverage. In this case we will apply the reasonable listener standard, and consideration will be given to the amount of news coverage given in the past 45 days. In all cases, a reasonable listener test will be applied, and the decision of WSHU's news director, or program director, will be final and can be revisited no less than every 30 days.