NCSA/PEP Program

Also known as Non-Commercial Sustainability Announcements (NCSA), Download information about the VAB’s Public Education Partnership (PEP) Program

What is a PEP?

The Public Education Partnership, or PEP, is an FCC sanctioned program offered by every state’s broadcast association. It is intended to help non-profit organizations and government agencies deliver their important public interest messages effectively & affordably around the entire state using the network of radio and television stations local to each region.

Who uses the PEP Program?

VT Army National Guard has successfully used this program for recruitment for many years. VT Department of Children & Families use it to promote adoption & find foster families. VT Commission on Women will be using it for a Sexual Harassment Awareness campaign soon and the list keeps growing!

How Does the PEP Program Work?

60+ radio and 6 television stations from around the state donate airtime to the Vermont Association of Broadcasters (VAB). In exchange for funding, the VAB makes the airtime available to nonprofits and government agencies which don’t have a history of buying advertising local-direct. For every $1 of funding from your organization, the VAB guarantees at least $4 of airtime value. In many cases, the return on investment is a 1:5 or 1:6 funding-to-airtime-value ratio. It makes limited funds stretch so far that it’s possible to reach the entire state!

How is it different from a PSA?

A Public Service Announcement (PSA) is aired by a station without a monetary commitment and is therefore aired by the station at its own discretion, if ever. PSAs are a useful approach for grassroots, community organizations (i.e. churches, one-time fundraisers) who do not have access to funding or grants and who rely solely on a station’s commitment to community service. Airtime for PSAs is never guaranteed, nor do stations offer stats about where, when or how many times it aired.

Where & when will PEP spots air?

Almost all 63 commercial radio and 6 commercial television stations in Vermont air PEP spots. Specific stations and times cannot be guaranteed, since stations participate voluntarily. However, the VAB works diligently with it’s membership to ensure effective coverage. PEP spots are placed on a Monday-Sunday 6am-Midnight rotation and a 4:1 return on investment is guaranteed. 

What kind of confirmation is received?

At the end of each month of the campaign, the VAB provides a spreadsheet showing the stations the PEP spots aired on, the quantity and the total value. In addition, stations provide affidavits (airtime reports) that show the exact dates and times the PEP spots aired.

Why do stations participate?

Stations voluntarily participate because PEP campaign funding enables the VAB to provide services to those stations that make them better broadcasters. PEP revenue helps the VAB subsidize professional education, scholarships, workforce recruitment, regulatory compliance programs, recognition events and other member benefits that many stations individually could not otherwise afford.

What is the “ideal” PEP message?

The ideal message is one of importance to a vast majority of people within the state. Those who find NCSA campaigns to be more successful are those who have a cause or message that is important to the Vermont’s residents as a whole. Spots cannot be considered “issue” advertising, which is defined as pushing a political agenda.

Does the VAB provide resources to create and distribute the spot(s)?

Yes. The VAB can assist with copywriting and/or production at low, or often no cost. The VAB also distributes all PEP spots with an insertion order directly to each station and follows up to ensure receipt.

How do I know if I’m eligible for PEP?

You are eligible to run a PEP campaign if:

  • You are a Non-Profit Organization or a Government Agency
  • You have a message of public interest
  • You have not purchased radio or television advertising local-direct in the last 2 years.

How much does it cost to air a PEP Campaign?

Cost is determined on a case-by-case basis based on two factors; campaign duration and whether you use radio, television or both.

How do you find out more?

Contact Wendy Mays, Executive Director of the Vermont Association of Broadcasters via email at or call 802-233-0296.