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Category Archives: Political Broadcasting

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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, Broadband Report, Cable Carriage, Digital Television, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, 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 Broadband Report, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Cable Carriage, EEO Compliance/Diversity, FM Radio, FM Translators and LPFM, General FCC, 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

Will the 9th Circuit Overrule Holding That Noncommercial Broadcasters Can Run Political Ads?

Posted in Noncommercial Broadcasting, Political Broadcasting
Several months ago, a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals created shockwaves throughout the noncommercial broadcasting community by holding that the Communications Act’s prohibitions against the sale of advertising time by noncommercial stations was unconstitutional when applied to political advertising. That decision may be short-lived, as the full Court of Appeals, in reviewing the … Continue Reading

California Congressman Files Suit against TV Stations for Alleged Defamation in Third-Party Advertising

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In these last days before the November election, the third-party ads attacking candidates in various political races don’t show any sign of letting up. In fact, press reports indicate that, if anything, the use of these ads is expanding to states not yet receiving them as, because there is so much money in these organizations and so … Continue Reading

FCC Finds Randall Terry Entitled to Reasonable Access to Buy Time on DC TV Station – and Defines the Geographic Scope of Access Obligations for Political Candidates

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC today acted on a reasonable access complaint by Randall Terry against a Washington DC television station, ordering the station to sell commercial time to his campaign as he is on the ballot as a legally qualified candidate for President in the state of West Virginia. The decision was based on the Commission’s finding that a portion … Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Refresher Part 5 – Why Don’t TV Stations Pull More SuperPAC Ads? Is There Potential Liability for These Ads?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
We recently wrote about candidate ads, and the "no censorship" provision of Section 315 of the Communications Act.   Broadcasters can’t censor a "use" by a political candidate (a candidate ad that features his or her recognizable voice or image), and thus the broadcaster is not liable for the content of a candidate’s ad. So no matter what the candidate may … Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Refresher Part 4 – No Censorship – How Can Candidates Get Away With Those Attack Ads?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
How can political attack ads get away with taking out-of-context statements of the candidates that they are attacking, and twisting these statements to convey meanings that were never intended by the candidate who first uttered the words? And how can political ads take a single line of an incredibly complex piece of legislation and use that … Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Refresher Part 3 – Reasonable Access – How Much Advertising Time Must Be Sold to Candidates?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In recent days, we’ve been writing about political broadcasting topics in anticipation of the November election. We provided a refresher on the basics of lowest unit charges on Monday, and equal opportunities on Wednesday.  Today, we’ll look at reasonable access – how much time must stations sell to political candidates (or give to them if they would rather meet … Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Update Part 2 – Equal Opportunities

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Now that we are in the political window, we’re doing a series on the basics of the FCC’s political broadcasting rules. On Monday, we covered lowest unit charges. Today’s topic is equal opportunities. Many think of this as a straight-forward issue – just requiring that you provide equal time to competing candidates. But the nuances are what makes … Continue Reading

Political Broadcasting Reminder Part 1 – The Basics of Lowest Unit Charges

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Now that the Democratic and Republican conventions are over and the candidates begin the final sprint to the November 6 elections, the political broadcasting season goes into overdrive. Effective last Friday, lowest unit rates are in effect. In this year which will probably break all records for political spending, is your station ready to comply with all of … Continue Reading

Questions and Answers About the TV Online Public Inspection File

Posted in Digital Television, Political Broadcasting, Public Interest Obligations/Localism, Television
 The Online Public File for television stations is now a reality. While appeals of the imposition of the rules remain pending, both the FCC and the US Court of Appeals denied stays of the August 2 effective date for the new requirements, so full-power and Class A television stations should now be complying with the new … Continue Reading

What is a Broadcaster to Do When Approached by an Ad Agency Buying Time for an Undisclosed Political Candidate?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Does a broadcast station need to book a political ad buy for an agency purporting to be representing a candidate, but refusing to reveal who that candidate is? We’ve recently received this question from a number of broadcast stations in a number of states, as agencies seemingly are jockeying to tie up valuable commercial time in … Continue Reading

Some PACs Stop Running “Electioneering Communication” Ads to Avoid Reporting Requirements

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
In recent days we have seen political action committees (PACs) claiming they are "prohibited" from running political ads in primary states due to "new rules" regarding "electioneering communications."  As explained below, these claims are incorrect.  What they are really doing is trying to avoid the need to reveal the identity of their contributors, following a US District Court decision … Continue Reading