Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Category Archives: Payola and Sponsorship Identification

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FTC Puts “Influencers” on Notice:  Disclose Marketing Relationships in Social Media Posts

Posted in On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Website Issues
Broadcasters and advertisers should take note of the more than 90 warning letters that the FTC sent out this week as a reminder of the need to disclose material sponsorship connections in social media promotions and endorsements.  The FTC has since 2009 announced a policy that any online content for which anything of value has… Continue Reading

Undoing the Past – New FCC Rescinds Rulings on Noncommercial Ownership Reports, Political Broadcasting Sponsorship Disclosure and Shared Services Agreements

Posted in Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Television
With the change in administration at the FCC, there are opportunities for certain actions to be taken very quickly, without going through the full process of a rulemaking requiring public notice of the proposed rule change and time for public comment.  At the end of this last week, we saw the FCC’s Media Bureau take… Continue Reading

Advertise Like Santa Is Watching – 6 Holiday Advertising/Marketing Tips to Help You Stay Off The Naughty List

Posted in Advertising Issues, Children's Programming and Advertising, Intellectual Property, Music Rights, On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations, Trademark, Website Issues
It’s the holiday season, and many of us are turning our thoughts to celebrating with friends and family. It is also high season for shopping, which means the airwaves, social media, websites and print pages are full of opportunities to buy, sell, and advertise. Whether you consider that to be a feature or a bug,… Continue Reading

Legal Issues in Digital and Social Media – Identifying the Landmines for Broadcasters and Other Media Companies – A Video Webinar

Posted in Advertising Issues, Appearances, Children's Programming and Advertising, Intellectual Property, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, On Line Media, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Privacy, Trademark, Website Issues
Almost every week, we write about some legal issue that arises in digital and social media – many times talking about the traditional media company that did something that they shouldn’t have done in the online world, and ended up with some legal issues as a result. Two weeks ago, I conducted a webinar, hosted… Continue Reading

Legal Issues for Broadcasters – Updates on Pending Matters

Posted in AM Radio, Appearances, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
There are so many legal issues that facing broadcasters that it is sometimes difficult to keep up with them all. This Blog and many other activities that those at my firm engage in are meant to help our clients and other broadcasters keep up to date on all of the many regulatory challenges with which… 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

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

$540,000 FCC Penalty for Cumulus Station Missing Formal Sponsorship Identification on Issue Ad Campaign

Posted in FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
The FCC yesterday released, and trumpeted, a Consent Decree reached with Cumulus Radio for a violation at one of its New Hampshire stations where full sponsorship identification announcements were not made on issue ads promoting an electric company’s construction project in New Hampshire.  In the Consent Decree, Cumulus agreed to pay a $540,000 penalty to… 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

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

April Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Including Quarterly Issues Programs and Children’s Television Reports; Comments In Proceedings Including One on Digital Auxiliaries; and More Incentive Auction Seminars

Posted in Broadcast Auctions, Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
April is one of those months with many routine FCC obligations. Quarterly Issues Programs lists need to be in your public file by the 10th of the month. This is an obligation for all full-power broadcast stations – commercial or noncommercial. Similarly, all TV stations have an obligation to submit their Children’s Television Reports on… 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

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

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

The Election is Over, But the Complaints Keep Coming – Should Michael Bloomberg Have Been Identified as the True Sponsor of an Ad Run by his PAC?

Posted in Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Television
Even though the election is over, political broadcasting issues have not stopped.  Yesterday, the same groups (the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, and the Sunlight Foundation) that had previously objected to the sponsorship identification of issue ads funded by PACs with a limited donor base have struck again.  This time, they have filed a complaint with… Continue Reading

Another FCC Complaint about the True Sponsor of a PAC Political Ad – What’s a Station to Do?

Posted in Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
Just a month ago, the FCC denied complaints alleging that Washington DC  TV stations had not adequately identified the true sponsor of political ads sponsored by a political action committee.  When that decision came down – denied on procedural grounds by the Commission – we warned that it opened the door to more complaints in… 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

FCC Complaints Filed Against TV Stations for Not Identifying the True Sponsor of Political Ads

Posted in Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Television
Public interest groups are actively watching broadcast political advertising which could make this a very interesting year for broadcasters.  The Sunlight Foundation, which only two months ago filed complaints against 11 television stations for alleged inadequacies in their online political files (see our summary here), has now filed two new complaints alleging that television stations… Continue Reading

$44,000 Fine for 11 Missing Sponsorship IDs for Radio Station 45 Second Spots – Emphasizes Importance of Strict Compliance with All FCC Programming Rules

Posted in FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Programming Regulations
In a decision released this week, the FCC fined a Chicago radio station $44,000 for omitting sponsorship identification announcements on 11 on-air spots promoting the positions of the sponsoring organization on certain issues facing the local community.  Finding that the purpose of the sponsorship identification rules (Section 317 of the Communications Act and Section 73.1212… 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

Making the Broadcaster the Source for the Disclosure of Political Spending? What the FCC’s Disclosure Rules Require and What Congress Might Want the FCC to Do

Posted in Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
Last week, the FCC Commissioners appeared before Congress for an "oversight hearing." In such hearings, Congressmen often raise many different issues that may be on their mind – everything from issues about the administration of the FCC to detailed policy issues. In the hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee last week, one issue arose that broadcasters should… 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

Text of Online Public File Order Released – Details of What the FCC is Considering, and Suggestion that Radio May Be Next

Posted in Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The full text of the FCC’s Order overturning its 2007 decision on online public inspection files for TV broadcasters and the adoption of the Form 355 "enhanced disclosure form" has now been released.  This order, adopted at the FCC’s open meeting this week (held on October 27, 2011, which we wrote about here), also contains a Further Notice of… Continue Reading

$12,000 Consent Decree Payment Demonstrates FCC Concerns About Sponsorship Identification Policies

Posted in FCC Fines, Payola and Sponsorship Identification
A consent decree entered into by a radio broadcaster, which included a $12,000 "voluntary contribution" to the US Treasury, demonstrates once again the FCC’s concerns about sponsorship identification issues.  The week before last, we wrote about the FCC fine levied on a television broadcaster for not including sufficient sponsorship information when a "video news release" was broadcast on… Continue Reading