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Category Archives: Political Broadcasting

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What Broadcasters Can Learn from the Rolling Stone Defamation Case

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
At the end of last week, the press reported on the jury verdict finding Rolling Stone magazine to be liable for defamation for its story, later retracted, about a gang rape at the University of Virginia. The case was brought by a University administrator who was portrayed negatively, including making her sound as if she… Continue Reading

November Regulatory Dates For Broadcasters – Incentive Auction, EAS, Political and More

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Emergency Communications, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Political Broadcasting
November is one of those few months where there is a very light load of routine regulatory filings for broadcasters.  This is a month with no routine FCC ownership or children’s television reports.  There are no routine EEO reports for the public file, and no other FCC regularly-scheduled deadlines. Of course, there are several other… Continue Reading

What to do When a Local Political Candidate Appears in a Spot Advertisement for a Commercial Business

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
This has been an unusual political year, as the number of political broadcasting legal issues that have arisen seems far smaller than in past election cycles. Perhaps broadcasters are all on top of the issues this year, or maybe the questions that often arise in connection with attack ads simply pale in comparison to some… Continue Reading

Summaries of the Legal Issues Facing Radio and TV Broadcasters – Staying on Top of Your Regulatory Obligations

Posted in AM Radio, Appearances, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, Drones, Emergency Communications, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Intellectual Property, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Political Broadcasting, Television
Each quarter, my partner David O’Connor and I update a list of the legal and regulatory issues facing TV broadcasters. That list of issues is published by TVNewsCheck and is available on their website, here. This update was published today, and provides a summary of the status of legal and regulatory issues ranging from the… Continue Reading

September Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters: EAS Test, Reg Fees, Lowest Unit Rates, Incentive Auction Stage 2

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FM Radio, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Television
September is one of those unusual months, where there are no regular filing dates for EEO public inspection file reports, quarterly issues programs lists or children’s television reports.  With the unusual start to the month with Labor Day being so late, and the lack of routine deadlines, we didn’t get our usual monthly highlights of… Continue Reading

Reminder: Lowest Unit Rates for the November Election Start Tomorrow

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
It’s election season, and for the 60 days before any general election, broadcast stations are required to charge political candidates the “lowest unit rate” for comparable advertising time that runs on their stations. That means that, for each class of advertising time on any particular station, the candidate can only be charged the lowest rate at… Continue Reading

Programmatic Advertising Buying and the FCC’s Political Broadcasting Rules

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
With the national presidential conventions complete, and most of the state primaries for Congressional, state and local offices either behind us or to occur in the next few weeks, the most concentrated period for the purchase of political advertising on broadcast stations is now upon us, to peak in the late October/early November frenzy. While… Continue Reading

Covering Breaking News and Local Emergencies – FCC Issues to Consider

Posted in Emergency Communications, General FCC, Intellectual Property, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
In recent weeks, tragic events in Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge and elsewhere engender thoughts for the victims, their families and their communities.  Events like these have become all too common, and certain normal routine has developed, with broadcast stations devoting substantial amounts of airtime to coverage of the event until some new story takes away… 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

Appearances by Political Candidates on Talk Program Exempt from Equal Opportunities – New FCC Declaratory Ruling Explains Why

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Television
Yesterday, the FCC’s Media Bureau issued a Declaratory Ruling, deciding that a syndicated television program, “Matter of Fact with Fernando Espuelas,” was a bona fide news interview program – meaning that appearances on the program by legally qualified candidates for public office would not give rise to equal opportunities (or “equal time” as it is… Continue Reading

July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – FM Translators for Class A and B AMs; Quarterly Issue Programs and Children’s Television Reports; Comments on EAS, Letters from the Public and Regulatory Fees, Cable Royalty Claims; and More

Posted in Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, Emergency Communications, FCC Fees, FCC Fines, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, License Renewal, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
While TV broadcasters can enjoy an incentive auction respite in July as attention shifts to the “forward auction” where we will see whether wireless carriers come up with enough money to fund the $86,422,558,704 (plus $1.75 billion for repacking costs, plus auction-related administrative costs) needed for the buyout of TV stations who agreed to surrender… 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

Equal Opportunities – What to Do With the On-Air Employee who Runs for Political Office

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations
Last week, we posted a reminder about the obligations for stations to provide equal opportunities for competing candidates to buy time on broadcast stations, and also talked about how the equal time provisions do not apply to bona fide news and news interview programs. Almost immediately, I received several questions about on-air employees who decide… Continue Reading

FCC Announces June 24 Effective Date for Radio Online Public Inspection File and New System for TV Stations Online File, Plus a Reminder to Upload JSAs

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
The FCC today issued a Public Notice that the obligation will begin on June 24 to start uploading documents to the online public file for radio stations in the Top 50 markets .   For Top 50 market commercial radio stations that are part of employment units with 5 or more full-time employees, the June 24… 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

May Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Incentive Auction, Comments on EAS, ATSC 3.0 and Set Top Boxes

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, Emergency Communications, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Political Broadcasting, Television
May is one of those off months in which there are not the kind of routine filings that pop up in most other months – no EEO Public File Reports, no quarterly issues programs lists or children’s television reports, no Biennial Ownership Reports for noncommercial stations (which will soon disappear anyway when noncommercial stations transition… Continue Reading

April Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports and Much More

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
April brings the whole panoply of routine regulatory dates – from the need to prepare EEO Public File and Noncommercial Ownership Reports in some states, to Quarterly Issues Programs lists for all full-power broadcast stations and Quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports for all TV stations.  So let’s look at some of the specific dates that… Continue Reading

Does the FCC Use the Online Public File to Spot Rule Violations? $20,000 Fine to TV Station for Late-Filed Children’s Television Reports Suggests it Does

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fines, General FCC, License Renewal, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
In a Notice of Apparent Liability released yesterday, the FCC proposed to fine a TV station $20,000 for being late in the filing of 4 years of Quarterly Children’s Television Programming Reports (FCC Form 398). While the penalty is consistent with the size of penalties that the FCC has been imposing for similar violations in… 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

Online Public Inspection File for Radio Still in the Future – Practical Impact Still a Few Months Away

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
In the last day or two, some broadcast trade press reports may have given the impression that the FCC’s new online public file rules for radio may now be “effective,” suggesting that Top 50 market stations with 5 or more full-time employees need to start uploading their new political documents into the file (the first… 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

FCC Releases Order on Online Public Inspection File – Answering Questions about Compliance with Radio’s New Obligations

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
Last week, we wrote about the FCC’s decision to require that radio stations move their public inspection files online.  Commercial stations with 5 or more full-time employees that are located in Top 50 markets need to make the transition to the online file later this year once the FCC gets its new rules approved by… Continue Reading