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By Terry Clifford

The term “community advisory board” is used loosely by licensees throughout public broadcasting to refer to a variety of boards and committees that assist stations in connecting to their communities. CPB station grant recipients that are not licensed to a state or state agency, however, must comply with language in the Communications Act that requires them to have a Community Advisory Board and to meet minimum operational standards for that board.

CAB requirements are part of an overall set of statutory obligations for stations the receive funds through CPB. In March 2004, CPB launched a review of how stations certify that they comply with these requirements with an eye to implementation standards in the internet era and in the context of regulatory changes at the Federal Communications Commission. Compliance regulations cover requirements for open meetings, open financial records, community advisory boards, equal employment opportunity, and mailing lists and political activities. CPB will issue updated certification guidelines toward the end of fiscal year 2004 – probably toward the end of the summer.

While it is commonly thought that CAB requirements apply only to community licensees, SRG’s reading of the law is that if you are not a state or state agency licensee, you are required to have a CAB. In addition to community licensees, this would include such entities as private universities and tribal councils – about another fifty licensees, mostly radio but including a couple of television licensees. While current CPB guidelines indicate that CAB provisions apply only to community licensees, SRG predicts that CPB will adopt a different interpretation by the end of this review – one that is closer to our take on the statutory language.

For additional reference:

  • Read an SRG legal memo addressing the requirements associated with a Community Advisory Board.

  • Review CPB’s annoucement of its certification requirement review.

  • See how Congress wrote the CAB requirement in the Communications Act.

    This report last updated April 2004