PEP/NCSA Program

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

What is PEP?

The Vermont Association of Broadcasters (VAB) Public Education Program, or PEP, is an FCC and IRS sanctioned program offered by all 50 state broadcasters associations. It is intended to help non-profit organizations and government agencies deliver their messages of public interest effectively and affordably around the entire state using the network of commercial radio and television stations local to each region.

Who uses PEP?

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, VT Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Governor’s Complete Census Count Committee and the list keeps growing!

How Does PEP Work?

The 50 commercial radio and 5 network affiliate 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.  It makes limited outreach funds stretch far enough to achieve state-wide reach and meets match grant requirements.

How is PEP 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 50 commercial radio and five commercial television stations in Vermont air PEP spots regularly. Specific stations, dayparts or programs are not guaranteed, since stations participate voluntarily. However, the VAB works diligently with it’s membership to ensure effective coverage. PEP spots are placed ROS (run-of-station) which means they can air anytime Monday-Sunday. A 4-to-1 return on investment ratio is guaranteed. 

What kind of confirmation is received?

At the end of each campaign, the VAB provides a spreadsheet identifying the stations the PEP spots aired on, the quantity on each station and the total estimated retail value. In addition, the VAB forwards affidavits (airtime reports) provided by the stations that show the exact dates and times all the PEP spots aired.

Why do stations participate?

Stations voluntarily air PEP spots because they understand PEP campaign funding enables the VAB to provide programs and services to those stations that make them better broadcasters. PEP revenue helps the VAB subsidize professional growth opportunities, 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?

Because PEP is not designed to target specific demographics, the ideal PEP message is one of general educational importance to the majority of Vermonters living in every part of the state. Any good radio or TV spot should tell a compelling story and have a motivating call to action. Spots must be tagged with sponsorship information, TV spots must be closed captioned and 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 (scheduling) 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?

Cost of a PEP campaign 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.