Just how noncom are you?

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Noncommercialism has historically been at the heart of public radio and television, both in mission and by law. But is that changing?

Matt Martin, GM of KALW in San Francisco, told Current that he noticed at the recent Public Media Development and Marketing Conference that the word noncommercial “is disappearing from the lexicon” among people who work in public media. “At least that’s my impression,” he said.

People tend to say “public” instead, he added, and with that word, “you can choose the definition much more easily.”

Martin submitted the question, “Other than FCC rules, which don’t apply to digital content, what is the limit on commercialism in public media?” as part of our Currently Curious series. We put his question up to a vote along with two other candidates, and it drew the most interest from readers.

Both on-air and digitally, Martin said, it seems that “people are testing what they can do.” He’s wondering what is being lost as a commitment to noncommercialism slips away. “I think there’s a value proposition to our noncommercialism as an identity,” he said.

We’ll be working on a story to answer Martin’s question, but we’d also like to hear from you. Do you think public media’s sound is growing more commercial? How is your station or network staying true to noncommercial values on digital platforms, such as your website or podcasts? Where do you draw the line when the FCC isn’t drawing one for you?

Respond here with a comment or contact me with your thoughts. We might add your response to our reporting.

Submit your own question to Currently Curious in the form below. It could be investigated in a future story.

  • Brad Deltan

    You’re so noncomm, you don’t even know how noncomm you are!