Staff members at KJHK, the FM radio station at Kansas University, are discussing whether the station is complying with its policy that governs promotions of bands and concerts.
KJHK is a non-profit, non-commercial educational laboratory for students who are interested in broadcast journalism, said Tim Mensendiek, KJHK general manager. He initiated a meeting to discuss the situation after Topeka lawyer Mike Merriam advised him to look into the station's promotional policies.
"WE HAVE to be absolutely sure that we are not in the promotions business," Mensendiek said. "In the meeting . . . we tried to define what `promote' means. We may have to seek outside legal counsel to determine if we are in violation of the regulation."
According to the Communications Act of 1934, "advertisement" is defined as any message or other programming material which is broadcast or otherwise transmitted in exchanged for any remuneration and which is intended to promote any service, facility, or product offered by any person who is engaged in such offering for profit.
KJHK was fined $2,000 by the FCC in September for broadcasting commercials on the air. The fine was paid for by KJHK's own existing endowment. But Mike Ulin, operations manager, said the station could not afford to be fined again, which could cost $25,000.
He said he had been researching all of the laws that apply to KJHK for about two years.
"We could be in some gray areas," said Ulin, who is a graduate student. "It's really intangible. But we will define what promotions mean as far as our license is concerned."
KJHK frequently promotes local bands in its "Band of the Week" program, but Mensendiek said that he was not sure if that violated the federal regulation.
"KJHK HAS a long history of strong connection to local bands," he said. "I don't think it's a willful or gross violation of the regulation, but we need to be getting into the teaching mode to make sure the station lines up with the Communications Act."
Ulin said several local bands had expressed concern that KJHK would stop broadcasting original music from the Lawrence area. But Ulin said he and Mensendiek did not advocate changing the music that the station plays.
Mensendiek said the band members needed to understand what regulations affect KJHK.
"First, we must line up with the FCC, and then the music follows," he said. "Music will not, cannot dictate the station. Structure must come first. Music is means unto an end, and the end is an educational service."