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Category Archives: Advertising Issues

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Dirty Dancing with Trademark Rights: How Pop Culture References in Ads Can Raise Legal Issues

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
Prospective advertisers come to your station and describe their ideas for local ads. A realtor’s ad ends with “There’s no place like home.” A boat builder says he will tell buyers, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.” And, a used car salesperson wants to say “I’m gonna make you an offer you can’t refuse.”… Continue Reading

Avoiding Olympic Hassles – Trademark and Other Legal Protections Limit the Use of Olympics, Paralympics and Related Terms in Advertising, Marketing, and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Programming Regulations, Trademark
Over the last several months, we have written about the risks of publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the SUPER BOWL® or MARCH MADNESS® without first asking the NFL or the NCAA, respectively, for permission to use those marks.  With millions of viewers about to tune into the OLYMPIC® games in… Continue Reading

Political Candidate Ads Without the Candidate’s Voice or Image – What is a Station to Do?

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
From time to time, questions come up as to whether it is acceptable for broadcast stations to air ads from a political candidate which do not feature the voice or, for TV, the image, of the candidate.  Ads from Federal candidates should almost never be missing the recognizable voice or image, as there are Federal… Continue Reading

Using Text Messages in Promotions and Contests? – $8,500,000 Settlement Provides Reminder to Make Sure You are Aware of TCPA Obligations

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, Privacy
In the last few days, the trade press has been full of stories about a settlement of a lawsuit brought against a large broadcaster for alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (“TCPA”). Given that the settlement was for $8.5 million, it has commanded lots of attention. While much of this attention seems to… Continue Reading

With November’s Presidential Election Taking Shape – Likely Political Advertising Issues Ahead for Broadcasters – Looking at Equal Opportunities

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
After last week’s Indiana primary, it appears that the Republican Party will be nominating Donald Trump as their Presidential candidate. While Hillary Clinton’s defeat in that primary may mean that the primaries continue to have meaning on the Democratic side, with apologies to supporters of Senator Sanders among our readers, most political commentators seem to… Continue Reading

New Federal Advertising Rules on E-Cigs and Other Tobacco Products Adopted – To Become Effective within Two Years

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FM Radio, Internet Radio, Internet Video, On Line Media, Television, Website Issues
E-Cigs and vape shops have become a new advertising category for many broadcast stations over the last few years. Unlike ads for cigarettes, little cigars, and smokeless (chewing) tobacco, which are effectively banned on broadcast stations, there are currently few Federal rules on e-cigs. Ads currently cannot make health claims about the product (so the… Continue Reading

Updated Political Broadcasting Guide – Questions and Answers about Broadcasters’ Obligations During this Election Season

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FM Radio, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Television
To help broadcasters sort out the confusing rules about political advertising, we have updated our Political Broadcasting Guide for Broadcasters (note that the URL for the updated version has not changed from prior versions, so your bookmarks should continue to work). The revised guide is much the same as the one that we published two… Continue Reading

It’s March Madness! Know the NCAA’s Rulebook or Risk A Foul Call Against the Unauthorized Use of Its Trademarks

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
Two months ago, I wrote here about the risks of publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the Super Bowl” without approval of the NFL. Now, with the NCAA Basketball Tournament about to begin, broadcasters, publishers and other businesses need to be multiply wary about potential claims arising from their use terms… Continue Reading

The Murky State of Rules on Broadcast Advertising of Marijuana Products in States Which Have Legalized its Sale or Use

Posted in Advertising Issues, General FCC, License Renewal, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
  Broadcasters, like other federally regulated industries, continue to be leery about advertising for marijuana, even in states where cannabis dispensaries have been legalized for medical or even recreational use.  This week, the NY Times ran an article about companies trying to provide ways for dispensaries to use electronic payment systems, as federally regulated banks… Continue Reading

Ted Cruz Demands Takedown of PAC Ad Attacking His Voting Record – Issues that Broadcast Stations Need to Consider When Threatened by Candidate Wanting an Ad Pulled

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
According to Politico, Ted Cruz’ campaign has demanded that TV stations pull certain PAC ads which he claims distort his voting record on immigration issues. This kind of claim from a political candidate about the unfairness of attack ads is common. Here, Cruz’ representatives apparently don’t threaten lawsuits against the stations for running the ads,… Continue Reading

As The Golden Super Bowl Approaches, Be Aware of The NFL’s Efforts to Protect Its Golden Goose from Unauthorized Ads and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Intellectual Property, Trademark
With the Super Bowl fast approaching, broadcasters and other media companies are planning advertising and promotions around the big game.  Here is some advice to broadcasters from Mitchell Stabbe, a lawyer from my firm who has spent over 30 years counseling businesses on trademark issues, about legal cautions to consider in finalizing your plans: In addition to… Continue Reading

What Washington Has in Store for Broadcasters in 2016 – Looking at the Legal Issues that the FCC Will Be Considering in the New Year

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Indecency, Internet Video, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
It’s that time of the year when we need to dust off the crystal ball and make predictions about the legal issues that will impact the business of broadcasters in 2016.  While we try to look ahead to identify the issues that are on the agenda of the FCC and other government agencies, there are… Continue Reading

Understanding a Broadcaster’s Political Broadcasting Obligations Under FCC Rules – A Webinar Outlining the Requirements

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
While many broadcasters’ thoughts are on holiday celebrations, the political process leading to the 2016 elections marches on. Last week, Bobby Baker, the head of the FCC’s Office of Political Programming and I conducted a webinar for broadcasters in 16 states on the legal issues that need to be considered in connection with the upcoming… Continue Reading

More Complaints Filed Against TV Stations for Allegedly Not Disclosing the True Sponsor of PAC Ad on Political Issues

Posted in Advertising Issues, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Television
The Sunlight Foundation, along with Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center, have filed with the FCC complaints against 18 TV stations claiming that these stations violated the FCC’s sponsorship identification rules by not identifying former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as the true sponsor of issue ads bought by the Independence USA political… Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Issues that Radio and TV Stations Should Be Thinking About Now As We Approach a Very Active Election Season

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
With the broadcast and cable news (and the monologs of TV talk show hosts) already dominated by discussions of the 2016 elections, broadcasters thoughts may be turning to that election and the expected flood of money that may come into the political process.  We are, after all, only two months away from the first ballots in… Continue Reading

Contest Rule Revisions Published in the Federal Register for Paperwork Reduction Act Review – Effective Date Not Until at Least December

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, Programming Regulations, Television
Today, the FCC published notice in the Federal Register of the adoption of the new simplified rules for publicizing the material rules for contests conducted by broadcasters. This publication was for purposes of review by the Office of Management and Budget under the Paperwork Reduction Act, a review necessary before any new rules requiring any… Continue Reading

FCC Revises Broadcast Contest Rules – Allows Disclosure of Material Rules on the Internet

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, Television, Website Issues
The FCC yesterday agreed to modernize its contest rules, allowing broadcasters to publicize the material terms of a contest that is conducted by a station through posting those rules on an Internet website, rather than requiring that the material rules be read on the air often enough so that a listener is likely to have… Continue Reading

FCC Chairman Details Issues Coming Soon for Broadcasters – Review of Retransmission Consent, Network Nonduplication, AM Improvements, and Contest Rules

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Digital Radio, Digital Television, FM Radio, Programming Regulations, Television, Website Issues
In an article posted on the FCC’s blog yesterday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler listed four actions that would soon be coming out of the FCC to address broadcast issues. For TV, these include looking at what constitutes “good faith negotiations” in the retransmission consent context, and whether to do away with the FCC’s network nonduplication… Continue Reading

How Broadcasters Could Have Big Liability For Texts And Calls under The FCC’s Recent Order on The Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)

Posted in Advertising Issues, FCC Fines, General FCC, Privacy
The FCC recently issued a Declaratory Ruling and Order on the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – and that order highlights many issues with broadcasters who use texts or outbound automated calls to the mobile devices of viewers and listeners. In fact, today the FCC released a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing to fine a… Continue Reading

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