Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Advertising Issues

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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

March Madness is A Trademarked Term Like the “Super Bowl” – Watch Your Advertising and Promotional Uses

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property
We’ve written many times before about those big name events, like March Madness, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. Events that you and your advertisers are just dying to tie into your own local event – a sale, a party or maybe the introduction of some special new product or service. Well, like the Super Bowl, March Madness … Continue Reading

FCC Grants Certain TV Stations Limited Waiver from Online Public File Obligations for Documents from Prior Renewal Terms

Posted in Advertising Issues, License Renewal, On Line Media, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Earlier today, we wrote about the FCC’s reminder that TV broadcasters must, by February 4, complete the upload to their FCC-mandated online public inspection file all materials from the current renewal term that were created prior to the August 2 effective date of the online public inspection file requirement.  We noted that the FCC had not addressed the … Continue Reading

Advertisers Beware – Remember That “Super Bowl” is a Protected Trademark That Can’t Be Used in a Commercial Without Permission

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property
With the league championship match-ups set, and the Super Bowl only 3 weeks away, broadcasters are once again getting ready for the onslaught of advertising opportunities that come with the big game. But, as we write every year at this time, broadcasters need to be extremely careful in using the term "Super Bowl" in any advertising … Continue Reading

Compliance Deadline for CALM Act December 13 – FCC Allows Waiver Filings Until that Deadline

Posted in Advertising Issues, Digital Television, Television
The CALM Act, meant to end the dreaded "loud commercial," is set to go into effect tomorrow, December 13. We summarized the requirements for compliance with the Act here. Basically, TV stations must adopt certain practices set out in a series of standards known as A/85 Recommended Practice, adopted by the ATSC (the Advanced Television Standards Committee). As … Continue Reading

Legalized Marijuana – Why Broadcasters Should be Wary

Posted in Advertising Issues, License Renewal
As personal marijuana use becomes decriminalized in the states of Washington and Colorado, we once again repeat our warning to broadcasters who may be looking to pot sales as a new source of advertising revenue – remember that the Federal government still thinks that the drug is illegal. The US Attorney’s Office in Seattle has reportedly … Continue Reading

CALM Act Waiver Requests Due By October 12

Posted in Advertising Issues, Digital Television, Television
This Friday (October 12) is the deadline for requesting a waiver under the FCC’s Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (“CALM”) Act implementing procedures, intended to combat "loud commercials."  We wrote about the implementing rules and the obligations of television stations to come into compliance with the standards set out in the rules, adopting a protocol that … Continue Reading

Some PACs Stop Running “Electioneering Communication” Ads to Avoid Reporting Requirements

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
In recent days we have seen political action committees (PACs) claiming they are "prohibited" from running political ads in primary states due to "new rules" regarding "electioneering communications."  As explained below, these claims are incorrect.  What they are really doing is trying to avoid the need to reveal the identity of their contributors, following a US District Court decision … Continue Reading

MARCH MADNESS: An Unusual Case of Reverse Confusion

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property
As we wrote about last year around this time, MARCH MADNESS is a term that is protected by trademark law.  It is owned by the March Madness Athletic Association (MMAA), a joint venture between the NCAA and the Illinois High School Athletic Association (IHSA).   The IHSA was actually first to begin using this mark to describe its high school basketball … Continue Reading

$44,000 Fine for Radio Station Not Including Sponsorship Identification in Paid Message

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification
The FCC proposed a $44,000 fine on a Chicago radio station for running 11 announcements that did not contain a sponsorship identification.  This fine was not for 11 different announcements for different groups, but instead a single announcement run 11 times.  Each airing of the announcement triggered a $4000 fine (which is the amount of the FCC "base fine" for a sponsorship … Continue Reading

A Summary of the FCC Rules Implementing the CALM Act to Regulate Loud TV Commercials

Posted in Advertising Issues, Programming Regulations, Television
The FCC this week adopted its rules implementing the CALM Act to address the public perception that commercials are too loud – louder than the programming which they accompany. Congress passed a law last year requiring that the FCC address the issue, and this week’s order adopts these implementing rules which will go into effect on … Continue Reading