Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel announced a proposal which would require that all pay TV providers prominently display “all in” pricing on

In the 45 days before a political primary and the 60 days before a general election, ads by political candidates (federal, state, or local) airing on a broadcast station or inserted by a local cable system into the programming it transmits to the public are entitled to “lowest unit rates” (LUR).  That means that candidates get the best rate offered or sold to a commercial advertiser whose ads are of the same class of time and running in the same daypart or on the same program.  This includes getting the benefit of all volume discounts given to commercial advertisers without having to buy in the volume that the commercial advertiser would need to qualify for the discount.  We have written more about the details of some of the issues with computing lowest unit rate (or “lowest unit charge”) many times before (see, for example, our articles here, here, and here). 

In a request for declaratory ruling filed by the Florida Association of Broadcasters, an interesting question has been posed to the FCC – can other political advertisers who buy time during the LUR period be entitled to these low rates if they are “authorized” by the political candidate?  Normally, such non-candidate political ads (usually referred to as issue ads) are charged much higher rates than those charged to candidates.

Continue Reading Are Issue Ads By Non-Candidate Groups Entitled to Lowest Unit Rates Just Because a Candidate Approves the Ad?  The FCC Is Asked for Its Opinion

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • As widely reported, Gigi Sohn has asked President Biden to withdraw her nomination to become the third Democratic FCC Commissioner

Yesterday, I wrote about the history of the NCAA’s assembling of the rights to an array of trademarks associated with this month’s basketball tournament.  Today, I will provide some examples of the activities that can bring unwanted NCAA attention to your advertisements or broadcasting of advertising, as well as one more issue that should be

With Selection Sunday this weekend, the 2023 NCAA Collegiate Basketball Tournament is about to begin.  As faithful readers of this blog know, broadcasters, publishers and other businesses need to be wary about potential claims arising from their use of terms and logos associated with the tournament.

NCAA Trademarks

The NCAA owns the well-known marks March Madness®, The Big Dance®, Final Four®, Women’s Final Four®, Elite Eight,® and The Road to the Final Four® (with and without the word “The”), each of which is a federally registered trademark. The NCAA does not own “Sweet Sixteen” – someone else does – but it does have federal registrations for NCAA Sweet Sixteen® and NCAA Sweet 16®.

The NCAA also has federal registrations for some lesser-known marks, including March Mayhem®, March Is On®,Midnight Madness®, Selection Sunday®, 68 Teams, One Dream®, And Then There Were Four® and NCAA Fast Break®. (It also has a registration for SPRING MADNESS®in connectionwith its soccer tournaments.)

Some of these marks are used to promote the basketball tournament or the coverage of the tournament, while others are used on merchandise, such as t-shirts.  The NCAA also uses (or licenses) variations on these marks without seeking registration, but it can claim common law rights in those marks, such as March Madness Live, March Madness Music Festival and Final Four Fan Fest.

Continue Reading March Madness and Advertising: Use of NCAA Trademarks (2023 Update – Part 1)

Early this year, we provided our look into the crystal ball to see what was on the FCC’s agenda for broadcasters in  the coming year.  Yesterday, the FCC published in the Federal Register its own list – its Semiannual Regulatory Agenda – listing an inventory of the matters at the FCC awaiting Commission action.  The

The recent $504,000 fine proposed to be levied on Fox for the use of simulated EAS tones in an NFL football promotion (see FCC’s Notice of Apparent Liability here) is obviously a message to broadcasters to remember that EAS tones can only be used for real alerts or authorized tests of the system – and not in any advertising, programming or promotions.  This is consistent with past big fines for improper use of these simulated EAS tones (see, for instance, the cases we wrote about here, here, and here).  This aspect of the Fox case – don’t use EAS tones except for real EAS purposes – has been well noted.  What has received less attention are the small details that went into this big proposed fine.

The most obvious of these details was the short duration of the EAS tones that led to the violation itself – the use was only 3 seconds long.  The Commission found that even a 3 second use of EAS tones was sufficient to confuse the public about a possible emergency or to contribute to possible desensitization of the public to the importance of these tones. But this is not the first situation where the FCC has imposed a very large fine for a violation that occurred only very briefly – one of the most obvious situations being a $325,000 indecency fine for a 3 second image of sexual organs in a corner of a TV screen when a station broadcast a screenshot of the homepage of an adult website to illustrate a news story about a former adult film star who became a local first responder (see our summary of that case, here).  Both in the recent EAS case and in the case of the indecency violation, the issues were not caught in the production of the on-air segments or in any pre-broadcast review of the programming before it was broadcast.  Both cases serve as a reminder that stations need to not take anything for granted in their pre-broadcast review of programming segments, reinforcing the need to carefully inspect everything that goes out over the air, as even 3 second violations can lead to fines that exceed $100,000 per second.

Continue Reading $504,000 Proposed Fine for Improper Use of EAS Tones – How Little Things Can Add Up to Big FCC Penalties

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC issued a Public Notice extending the deadlines for all filings in the FCC’s LMS or online public file

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • By a Public Notice issued on December 15, the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau told broadcasters to submit