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Category Archives: Political Broadcasting

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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

February Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters

Posted in AM Radio, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Internet Radio, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Television
It’s February, and we’re back to the normal cycle of FCC filings. Due to be placed in the public files of radio and TV stations with 5 or more full-time employees are EEO Public Inspection File Reports for radio and TV stations in the following states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York,… Continue Reading

FCC Adopts Online Public File Requirements for Radio, Satellite and Cable – To be Effective for Large Market Radio Later This Year

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, FM Radio, General FCC, Noncommercial Broadcasting, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television, Website Issues
The FCC today adopted rules to require that the public inspection files of radio stations (and of cable television systems and operators of satellite radio and television companies) to put their public inspection files online.  While, thus far, the FCC has only released a public notice summarizing its decision and not the full text explaining… Continue Reading

A Broadcaster’s Calendar of Important Regulatory Dates in 2016

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, General FCC, Internet Radio, Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Television
At the beginning of each year, we publish our broadcaster’s calendar of important dates – setting out the many dates for which broadcasters should be on alert as this year progresses.  The Broadcasters Calendar for 2016 is available here.  The dates set out on the calendar include not only FCC filing deadlines and dates by… 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

Confirmed – The FCC Will Act to Require Online Public File for Radio, Satellite and Cable This Month

Posted in AM Radio, FM Radio, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Last week, we noted that an order acting on the FCC’s proposal to adopt a requirement for an online public file for radio, cable and satellite had been prepared and was circulating among the FCC commissioners for their review.  Yesterday, in a post on the FCC’s blog, the FCC Chairman confirmed that the decision would… Continue Reading

Will the Proposal for an Online Public File for Radio and Cable and Satellite TV Be Adopted Soon?

Posted in AM Radio, Cable Carriage, FM Radio, General FCC, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Website Issues
The FCC appears poised to decide what to do with its proposals for an online public inspection file for radio stations, and for cable and satellite TV systems. The FCC’s list of “Items on Circulation” (orders that have been written and are being considered for approval by the FCC Commissioners) indicates that the decision has… Continue Reading

January Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs Lists and Children’s Television Reports, Incentive Auction, FM Translators for AM Stations, Webcasting Fees, LUR Windows and More

Posted in AM Radio, Broadcast Auctions, Cable Carriage, Children's Programming and Advertising, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, Incentive Auctions/Broadband Report, Internet Radio, Internet Video, Multiple Ownership Rules, Music Rights, On Line Media, Political Broadcasting, Television, Website Issues
While January starts off with some regulatory deadlines that apply to all broadcasters – Quarterly Issues Programs lists must be placed in a station’s public file by the 10th of January – there are many other dates that come due this month, dates to which broadcasters need to pay careful attention. For TV stations, they… 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

The Care and Feeding of the Broadcast Public Inspection File – Requirements and Retention Periods, A Presentation on the Issues

Posted in AM Radio, FCC Fines, FM Radio, General FCC, License Renewal, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
The FCC requires each full-power broadcast station, commercial and noncommercial, to maintain a public inspection file.  Even though this is a longstanding FCC requirement, there are always questions about what goes into the file, and how long those materials must be retained.  The week before last, I conducted a webinar for about 20 state broadcast… Continue Reading

TV Crime Watch Show is Bona Fide News Program Exempt from Equal Opportunities Requests from Political Candidates – Reviewing the Equal Time Rule

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC yesterday issued a Declaratory Ruling at the request of the producers of a new syndicated Crime Watch Daily TV show, a program that will give a daily rundown of crime stories including ongoing court trials from around the nation, declaring that the program would not give rise to equal opportunities claims from 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