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Truth in Advertising

March 17, 2006
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The Wall Street Journal this morning reported on the controversial increase in business sponsorship revenue, in exchange for on-air announcements, at “commercial free” National Public radio and its affiliate member stations. “Public radio executives are aware of the fine line they must tread,” writes Sarah McBride. “They don’t even call it advertising—to them it’s ‘sponsorship’ or ‘underwriting.’”

There’s no such tightrope walk at Baltimore’s WYPR-FM. In its 2004 tax return, the one most recently available, the public radio station describes its $1,755,911 underwriting revenue this way: “WYPR radio provides advertising for clients, in return for underwriting fees that enables WYPR to broadcast programs of intellectual integrity and cultural merit.”