PEP/NCSA Program

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

What is a PEP?

The Public Education Partnership, or PEP, is an FCC sanctioned program offered by every state’s broadcasters 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 commercial 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 over 20 years. VT Department of Children & Families use it to promote adoption & find foster families. Other users include VT Commission on Women, VT Department of Mental Health, Advance Vermont and the list keeps growing!

How Does the PEP Program Work?

The 40 commercial radio and 5 commercial television stations operating 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 not already buying advertising directly from local stations. For every $1 of funding from your organization, the VAB guarantees a minimum of $4 of retail advertising. In many cases, the return on investment is as high as 5-to-1 airtime-to-investment ratio. It makes limited outreach funds stretch far enough to achieve state-wide reach and meets match grant requirements.

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. Airtime for PSAs is never guaranteed, nor do stations offer stats about where, when or how many times it aired. PSAs are a useful approach for grassroots, community organizations (i.e. churches, small one-time fundraisers) who do not have access to outreach funds or grants and who rely solely on a station’s commitment to community service. Contrary to a PSA which is usually handled by a public service liaison wearing many hats, the VAB distributes your PEP spot(s) along with a commercial log insertion order directly to each station’s traffic department and follows up to ensure receipt and scheduling.

Where & When will PEP spots air?

Approximately 40 commercial radio and five 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-to-1 return on investment ratio 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 PEP campaigns to be more successful are those who have a 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 no cost for radio and low cost for television. The VAB also distributes all PEP spots with a commercial log insertion order directly to each station’s traffic department and follows up to ensure receipt and scheduling.

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 or made inquires to purchase radio or television advertising directly from a local station in the last 2 years
  • Note, every PEP campaign must be approved by the VAB Board of Directors

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 vab@vab.org or call 802-233-0296.