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Category Archives: Political Broadcasting

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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

September Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Regulatory Fees, Lowest Unit Rates, and Comments on Multiple Ownership, Online Public File for Radio and MVPDs, Music Licensing and Class C4 FM Stations

Posted in FCC Fees, FM Radio, Internet Radio, License Renewal, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, Political Broadcasting
September is one of those few months of the year where there are no regular FCC filing deadlines – no quarterly issues programs lists, no children’s television reports, no annual EEO public file reports, and no ownership reports or renewal deadlines.  For TV stations that recently filed a renewal, or which are about to file … Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comments on Expanding Online Public File Obligations to Radio and to Cable and Satellite Television Operators

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, FM Radio, General FCC, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
The FCC has asked for public comment on whether it should extend the online public inspection file obligation to radio, and also whether it should adopt an online public file obligation for cable television and satellite television operators.  The latter proposal originates in a recent petition by the Sunlight Foundation and two other public interest … 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

July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – New Captioning Obligations, Online Political File for Small TV Stations, Issues Programs List and Children’s Television Reports, and More

Posted in Children's Programming and Advertising, FCC Fees, General FCC, Internet Radio, Internet Video, License Renewal, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
July brings a number of new regulatory dates for broadcasters – including the effective dates of two new compliance obligations for small market TV stations, as well as numerous routine regulatory filing dates.  July 10 brings one deadline for all broadcast stations – it is the date by which your Quarterly Issues Programs lists, setting … Continue Reading

A Presentation on the Obligations of Small Market TV Broadcasters to Begin To Upload Their Political Files into Their Online Public File as of July 1

Posted in Political Broadcasting, Television
TV stations in markets outside of the Top 50, and stations in the Top 50 markets that are not affiliated with one of the Big 4 networks, need to begin to upload new material placed into their political files into their Online Public File as of July 1 – just a few weeks away.  David … Continue Reading

FCC Chairman Reminds TV Broadcasters of the Importance of their Online Political File Obligations as its Staff Investigates Complaints about Deficiencies

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Two weeks ago, we wrote about the complaints filed against 11 big-market TV stations about deficiencies in the political broadcasting paperwork in their online public file.  This week, the FCC’s Office of Political Broadcasting in its Media Bureau sent letters to all of the stations involved, asking that the stations respond to the complaints and provide … Continue Reading

FCC Decides that it will No Longer Enforce the Zapple Doctrine – Killing the Last Remnant of the Fairness Doctrine

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The Zapple Doctrine was an outgrowth of the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine.  The Zapple Doctrine required that broadcast stations that give air time to the supporters of one candidate in an election give time to the supporters of competing candidates as well. Even though the Fairness Doctrine has been defunct for years, having had various manifestations … Continue Reading

Complaints Filed against 11 TV Stations Alleging Deficiencies in their Online Political File – Warning to Stations, Your File is Being Watched!

Posted in On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Television, Website Issues
The Campaign Legal Center and Sunlight Foundation filed FCC complaints against 11 major market TV stations across the country alleging that these stations had inadequate online political files.  The Center issued a press release about its filings, stating that these complaints “exposed widespread noncompliance with the disclosure requirements” of the law.  The press release went … Continue Reading

Equal Opportunities Issues that Arise When a Broadcast On-Air Personality Runs for Political Office

Posted in Political Broadcasting
It’s political season, and somewhere, some on-air broadcast air personality is making the decision that they really want to change careers – and run for political office.  We’ve written about what a broadcaster needs to do when that decision is made by one of their personalities, but I guess not every broadcaster reads this blog, … Continue Reading

FCC Reminds Small Market TV That Political File Goes Online As of July 1, No FCC Review of the Obligations Seems Imminent

Posted in General FCC, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC on Friday issued a reminder to all TV stations that, as of July 1, they will have to upload all of their new political broadcasting documents to their online public files.  Up to this point, only stations affiliated with the Top 4 networks in the Top 50 markets had to worry about putting … 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

January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters and Webcasters – Children’s Television Reports, Quarterly Issues Programs List, Webcaster Elections and Minimum Fees, the Return of Lowest Unit Rates and More!

Posted in AM Radio, Children's Programming and Advertising, General FCC, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Music Rights, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
A new month in a new year, and a number of new regulatory dates are upon us for broadcasters – and important dates for webcasters also fall in this month.  So now that the holidays are quickly becoming just a foggy memory, it is time to sharply focus on those regulatory obligations that you have … Continue Reading

What’s Up in Washington For Broadcasters in 2014? — Part 1, FCC Issues

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Indecency, Internet Video, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Uncategorized
It is the beginning of another year – and a time to look ahead to look ahead at what broadcasters should expect from Washington in the coming year.  With so many issues on the table, we’ll divide the issues into two parts – talking about FCC issues today, and issues from Capitol Hill and elsewhere … 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

August FCC Regulatory Deadlines for Broadcasters – Including Renewals; EEO; Comments on Indecency, the Online Public File and Cross-Ownership

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, FCC Fees, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Indecency, License Renewal, Multiple Ownership Rules, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
Another month is upon us, along with all of the FCC regulatory obligations that accompany it. August brings a host of license renewal obligations, along with EEO public file obligations in a number of states, as well as noncommercial Biennial Ownership Report filings in several states. We also expect that the FCC will notify stations of the … Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comments on Online Political File for TV Stations – Should Obligations Be Changed or Expanded?

Posted in General FCC, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
It has been almost a year since the FCC adopted rules for an online public inspection file for television stations. This week, the Commission released a Public Notice requesting comments on how the rules are performing – specifically focusing on the online political file. While the Commission’s rules currently require only that the affiliates of the top four … Continue Reading

Reminder – Most FCC Political Rules Apply to Off-Year Elections for State and Local Offices

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In odd years like 2013, most broadcasting stations don’t think about the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. But they should – both for special elections to fill open seats in Congress, and for state and local political offices. This week, the news has been full of stories about next week’s special election for Congress in South Carolina, pitting … 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

FCC Issues Reminder that TV Stations Need to Complete Online Public File By February 4 – Upload Documents Including All Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and EEO Public File Reports Since the Last License Renewal Grant

Posted in EEO Compliance/Diversity, License Renewal, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The six months that the FCC gave to television stations to upload the contents of their paper public files to their new online public file seemed like a long time back in August, when the deadline was announced and the online public file rule became effective. But that deadline is upon us, and the FCC yesterday … Continue Reading

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball – What Washington Has In Store For Broadcasters in 2013

Posted in Broadcast Performance Royalty, Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Indecency, Internet Radio, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Privacy, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
Every year, about this time, I dust off the crystal ball to offer a look at the year ahead to see what Washington has in store for broadcasters. This year, like many in the recent past, Washington will consider important issues for both radio and TV, as well as issues affecting the growing on-line presence of … Continue Reading

Sportscaster Running for Mayor In Chicago Suburb Taken Off the Air – Illustrating that the Equal Opportunities Rule Applies to State and Local Candidates

Posted in Political Broadcasting
A recent article in the Chicago Tribune demonstrates that the FCC’s Equal Opportunities requirements, as embodied in Section 315 of the Communications Act, apply to candidates for state and local elective office as well as to those for Federal office. We have written before about this obligation of stations to provide Equal Opportunities (sometimes referred to as … Continue Reading

The Care and Feeding of the Broadcaster’s Public Inspection File – An FCC Reminder and a Compliance Seminar

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, General FCC, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The care and feeding of the broadcaster’s public file is a hot topic once again. For many years, the public file was often overlooked, being visited most often by competing broadcasters looking for dirt on their cross-town rivals, or by college journalism students assigned a project by their professor requiring the review of local stations’ files. But, … Continue Reading