Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Advertising Issues

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Does a Local Business Need Licenses from ASCAP, BMI and SESAC to Play My Radio or TV Station on Their Premises?

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Performance Royalty, FM Radio, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Music Rights, Television
Twice this morning, I was faced with the question of whether a business needs a license to play a radio or TV station on their premises, once in a story in one of the broadcast trade publications (see the article here, in the You Can’t Make This Up column toward the bottom of the article)… Continue Reading

Keeping Our Campaigns Honest Act Proposes that FCC Require Disclosure of Significant Donors to Entities That Sponsor Issue Ads

Posted in Advertising Issues, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
A bill introduced in the House of Representatives last week proposes that the FCC be required to amend its sponsorship identification rules to require not just the name of the sponsor of an ad addressing “a controversial issue of public importance,” but also the names of any “significant donors” to the sponsor. This bill is… Continue Reading

FCC Asks for Comment on Radio Broadcasters Proposal for Moving Online Some Sponsorship Identifications

Posted in Advertising Issues, Music Rights, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations
A group of radio broadcasters have asked the FCC to agree to waive some provisions of the current sponsorship identification rules of the FCC to permit stations that have sponsored music or sports programming to move some of the required sponsorship identification online (the request is available here). This is to provide listeners with a… Continue Reading

March Madness is a Trademarked Term – Use Caution in Using it in Advertising and Promotion

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations
We are in March, which means that the minds of many turn to basketball, specifically March Madness as the NCAA hosts its annual championship tournament to crown college basketball’s national champion. And many broadcasters want to take advantage of the tournament to promote their stations or the products of their sponsors. Because of this inclination,… Continue Reading

Comments Sought by FCC on Political Broadcasting Lowest Unit Rate Implications of Last In First Out Pricing

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
In a Public Notice issued yesterday, the FCC asked for comments from the public on whether broadcast stations should be able to enforce “Last In, First Out” (“LIFO”) pricing against political candidates in election races.  During the 45 days before a primary election or the 60 days before a general election, for advertising buys by… Continue Reading

More Big Penalties for Use of EAS Tones in Non-Emergency Programming

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
The FCC seems to be making another statement – releasing one decision upholding two very large fines against major cable programmers for improper use of EAS tones in ads for a movie, while just two days later releasing another decision approving a consent decree with a broadcaster imposing a penalty and monitoring conditions for using… Continue Reading

Beware of the Trademark and Copyright Issues in Ads and Promotions Involving the Super Bowl

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations
With the college football champion now decided, and the NFL league championships this coming weekend to decide this year’s Super Bowl teams, it’s that time when we post our warning about being careful with using the phrase “Super Bowl” in your promotions and commercials.  Both copyright and trademark issues can arise at Super Bowl time. … Continue Reading

What Washington Has in Store for Broadcasters in 2015 – Part 1, What’s Up at the FCC

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Indecency, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Each year, at about this time, we pull out the crystal ball and make predictions of the issues affecting broadcasters that will likely bubble up to the top of the FCC’s agenda in the coming year.  While we try each year to throw in a mention of the issues that come to our mind, there… Continue Reading

A Week of Emergency Alert System Actions at the FCC – Fines Including One for $46,000 for EAS Tones in a Commercial, and Reviews of Best Practices for the System

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines, Programming Regulations
Perhaps Sunday’s anniversary of Pearl Harbor made the FCC want to make this week one which concentrated on emergency communications issues, or perhaps it is just a coincidence.  But the FCC has been active in the past 7 days dealing with emergency communications related items for broadcasters.  On Wednesday, it issued a consent decree by… Continue Reading

TV Station Agrees to $115,000 FCC Fine for Not Identifying Sponsor of Program Promoting a Sale at Auto Dealership

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations
On Friday, the FCC released an Order and Consent Decree by which Journal Broadcasting agreed to pay a fine of $115,000 and to enter into a compliance program to settle complaints that it had not adequately identified that a program aired on its Las Vegas TV station was sponsored by a local car dealership.  According… Continue Reading

FCC Declines to Allow Experimentation with Noncommercial Underwriting Rules

Posted in Advertising Issues, Noncommercial Broadcasting
The FCC yesterday issued an order declining to allow experimentation with the noncommercial underwriting rules that was requested by the licensee of noncommercial radio stations in the Phoenix area.  The licensee had asked the FCC for permission to conduct a three year experiment by relaxing the underwriting rules in certain ways to determine the effect… Continue Reading

What’s a Broadcaster to Do When a Candidate Complains About the Truth of an Attack Ad? – Dealing with Ads from Non-Candidate, Third-Party Organizations

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
As we move into the final weeks of the election season, and races heat up, there are always issues about attack ads and what a station needs to do when they receive a “take-down” notice from a candidate who is being attacked. We recently wrote about candidate ads, and the “no censorship” provision of Section… Continue Reading

Questions about the Truth of Political Ads, What’s a Broadcaster to Do When a Candidate Complains About an Attack Ad? – The No Censorship Rule for Candidate Ads

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
Every election season there is the same refrain from candidates who are attacked in political ads run on broadcast stations – that ad is unfair and the broadcaster who is running it should take it off the air.  Sometime, that request is sent by a lawyer with threats to bring legal actions if the broadcaster… Continue Reading

The Political Window Opens Tomorrow – A Refresher on the Basics of Lowest Unit Charge

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
With the lowest unit charge window for the November elections kicking into effect tomorrow (September 5), we thought that it was a good idea to review the basics FCC rules and policies affecting those charges. With each election seemingly breaking spending records from prior cycles, your station needs to be ready to comply with all… Continue Reading

Identification of Sponsors of Non-Candidate Political Ads May Be More Controversial This Election Season as FCC Suggests that Broadcasters May Need to Determine Who is Behind Third Party Ads

Posted in Advertising Issues, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
Get ready for more challenges to issue ads that you may be receiving this election season.  The FCC’s Media Bureau today released a brief decision on the Sunlight Foundation’s complaint petition against two TV stations concerning the proper sponsorship identification for ads by Political Action Committees.  We wrote about those complaints when they were filed… Continue Reading

Answering Your Questions on the FCC’s Political Broadcasting Rules – A Guide to Political Broadcasting from Candidates and Issue Advertisers

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
An active political broadcasting season is already upon us, with things more likely to get even more hectic between now and November.  Are you ready to handle all of the FCC’s political broadcasting obligations?  We’ve prepared an updated Guide to the FCC’s political broadcasting rules in a question and answer format, and it is available… Continue Reading

Be on the Alert for EAS Tones in Non-Emergency Situations – Big FCC Fines for These Violations and Other EAS Issues

Posted in Advertising Issues, Cable Carriage, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
The FCC has recently staked out a policy that the any use of EAS tones, or tones that sound like those alerts, outside of a real emergency, will lead to big fines.  Since the beginning of the year, the FCC has issued notices proposing fines totaling over $2.2 million against some of the biggest media… Continue Reading

What’s Up in Washington For Broadcasters in 2014? — Part 2, Issues beyond the FCC Including Ad Taxes, Music Royalties, Privacy Reforms, and More

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Cable Carriage, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Privacy
We recently wrote about FCC issues that will be facing broadcasters in this new year.  While broadcasters will no doubt be busy keeping track of what the FCC is up to, they also need to have their eyes on other government agencies, as there are numerous issues that may come from Congress and the other… Continue Reading

Super Bowl, the Olympics and March Madness – Watch Your Advertising and Promotions for Unauthorized Uses of Trademarked Phrases

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property
It’s that time again when broadcasters and advertisers need to watch their commercials and promotions to avoid improper uses of trademarked phrases – with the Super Bowl only weeks away, the Winter Olympics to follow soon thereafter and March Madness to follow closely after that.  Already, Stephen Colbert is making jokes about not using the… Continue Reading

Court of Appeals Upholds Communications Act Ban on Commercial and Political Advertising on Public TV Stations – Significant Analysis of the Standards for First Amendment Review of all Broadcast Regulation

Posted in Advertising Issues, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting
Section 399b of the Communications Act bans advertising for for-profit companies, as well as political and issue advertising, on noncommercial radio and television stations.  While Congress over 20 years ago loosened some restrictions on fundraising by allowing paid ads by nonprofit groups on noncommercial stations, and permitting commercial entities to provide some minimal information about… Continue Reading

Penalties of $39,000 and $25,000 Assessed For Video Programming Containing Fake EAS Messages

Posted in Advertising Issues, Emergency Communications, FCC Fines
The FCC is cracking down hard on television stations and cable companies who use EAS alerts – or even simulations of such alerts – in advertising, promotions, and programming.  In two orders released this week, the FCC imposed big penalties on video companies who used fake EAS alerts in commercial messages.  In one case, it… Continue Reading

While Our Blog Was Getting A Makeover, Did You See Our Stories on the New FCC Chairman, Foreign Ownership of Broadcast Stations, AM Revitalization, Orson Welles and the Hoax Rule and More?

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Television
There have been many Washington developments for broadcasters in the last week – and while it was all occurring, our Blog was undergoing a makeover, so some of the articles that we published in the last week may have been missed.  Perhaps the biggest news was the confirmation and swearing in of the new FCC… Continue Reading

Cigarettes and Sponsorship Identification Combine to Trap a Broadcasters into a $15,000 “Voluntary Payment” to Avoid FCC Enforcement Action

Posted in Advertising Issues, Payola and Sponsorship Identification
How do you advertise a business that sells tobacco products and has the word “cigarette” in its name? Apparently, you don’t, at least not on radio and TV stations – based on the teachings of the Public Notice released by the FCC this week, entering into a consent decree with a broadcaster. In exchange for dismissing its… Continue Reading

Using Music in Radio or TV Productions – Why ASCAP, BMI and SESAC Licenses Usually Are Not Enough

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Website Issues
Using music in commercials and other broadcast station productions can be treacherous. As we’ve written before, contrary to what some stations might think (based on the questions we often get from broadcasters around the country), a station’s ASCAP, BMI and SESAC royalties do not give them the right to use popular music in their station… Continue Reading