Public service announcements, or PSA's, are short messages produced on film, videotape, DVD, CD, audiotape, or as a computer file and given to radio and television stations. Generally, PSA's are sent as ready-to-air audio or video tapes, although radio stations (especially community or public stations, such as campus radio or National Public Radio affiliates) sometimes prefer a script that their announcers can read live on the air. They can be done very simply with a single actor reading or performing a message, or they can be elaborate, slickly-produced messages with music, dramatic story-lines, and sound or visual effects. Broadcast media -- radio and television -- are required by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to serve "in the public interest." Most stations use PSA's as one of the ways they meet this requirement. While they aren't required to donate a fixed percentage of air time per day to PSA's, stations do have to state in their licensing and renewal applications how much air time they plan to devote to PSA's. Most stations donate about a third of their commercial spots to non-commercial causes; in other words, if a station has 18 minutes of commercials in a given hour, six minutes of that will probably be devoted to PSA's. Some advantages of PSA's
* PSA's are generally inexpensive. Since the airtime is donated, your only cost is production. If you keep to a tight budget, you can make PSA's very cheaply. * Most stations will allow you to include a telephone number for more information in your PSA. * PSA's tend to be really effective at encouraging the audience to do something -- for example, call a phone number for more information, use condoms, or have your pet spayed or neutered. * PSA's can raise awareness of your issue.
Some limitations of PSA's
* Because PSA's depend on donated time, you'll often find you're not able to get them run on all the media outlets you'd like to, or...