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

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from this 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 that she had circulated among the Commissioners for their review and approval a draft Notice of

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.

  • Perhaps the biggest regulatory news of the past week came not from the FCC, but instead from the Federal Trade

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

  • The FCC announced several dates and deadlines in proceedings of importance to broadcasters:

Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing an $8000 fine on a Los Angeles radio broadcaster that did not award a contest prize until over a year after the contest rules called for the prize to be delivered.  The contest rules called for the prize to be awarded within 30 days of a winner sending all required paperwork to the station.  As payments were made over a year after the end of the 30-day period provided by the contest rules, the Bureau concluded that the station had violated Section 73.1216 of the FCC rules which requires, among other contest rules, that a contest be conducted “fairly and substantially as represented to the public.”  The Bureau’s Notice cites to FCC precedent indicating that “timely fulfillment of the prize” is a material term in the contest rules which, when violated, represents a violation of the FCC rule.

The prize money that was awarded late was only $396, so some might think that a proposed fine of $8000 is excessive, though the Bureau indicates in a footnote that there were 98 prize winners in the same contest that did not timely receive their prizes.  The Bureau itself noted that the “base forfeiture” for a violation of the contest rules set out in the FCC’s schedule of fines is $4000.  But the proposed fine was adjusted upward in this case because the FCC perceived that, for a large company such as the licensee of this station, a $4000 fine might simply be seen as a cost of doing business, and not act as a sufficient deterrent against future bad conduct.  The FCC even noted that it had the power to fine the station for each day that the contest award was not made, which could have resulted in a fine of hundreds of thousands of dollars.Continue Reading FCC Proposes $8000 Fine for Failure to Award $396 Prize Within Time Period Set Out in the Contest Rules

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

  • The debate over the AM for Every Vehicle Act intensified this week, with the Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board publishing an article

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 adopted a decision resolving the FCC’s long-pending proceeding on whether to authorize FM “zonecasting” or “geo-targeting,” permitting FM

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

Every year at about this time, with April Fools’ Day right around the corner, we need to play our role as attorneys and ruin any fun that you may be planning by repeating our reminder that broadcasters need to be careful with any on-air pranks, jokes or other on-air bits prepared especially for the day.  While a little fun is OK, remember that the FCC has a rule against on-air hoaxes, and there can be liability issues with false alerts that are run on a station.  Issues like these can arise at any time, but a broadcaster’s temptation to go over the line is probably highest on April 1.

The FCC’s rule against broadcast hoaxes, Section 73.1217, prevents stations from running any information about a “crime or catastrophe” on the air, if the broadcaster (1) knows the information to be false, (2) it is reasonably foreseeable that the broadcast of the material will cause substantial public harm and (3) public harm is in fact caused.  Public harm is defined as “direct and actual damage to property or to the health or safety of the general public, or diversion of law enforcement or other public health and safety authorities from their duties.”  If you air a program that fits within this definition and causes a public harm, you should expect to be fined by the FCC.Continue Reading How an April Fools’ Day On-Air Prank Gone Wrong Could Result in FCC Issues

The FCC last week released its first EEO audit notice for 2024.  The FCC’s Public Notice, audit letter, and the list of stations selected for audit is available here.  Those stations, and the station employment units (commonly owned or controlled stations serving the same area sharing at least one employee) with which they are associated, must provide to the FCC (by uploading the information to their online public inspection file) their last two years of EEO Annual Public File reports, as well as backing data to show that the station in fact did everything that was required under the FCC rules.  The response to this audit is due to be uploaded to the public file of affected stations by May 6, 2024. The audit notice says that stations audited in 2022 or 2023, or whose license renewals were filed after February 1, 2022, can ask the FCC for further instructions, possibly exempting them from the audit because of the recent FCC review of their performance. 

With the release of this audit, and last year’s $25,000 fine proposed for some Kansas radio stations that had not fully met their EEO obligations (see our article here), it is important to review your EEO compliance even if your stations are not subject to this audit.  The FCC has promised to randomly audit approximately 5% of all broadcast stations each year. As the response (and the audit letter itself) must be uploaded to the public file, it can be reviewed not only by the FCC, but also by anyone else with an internet connection anywhere, at any time.  The Kansas fine, plus a recent $26,000 fine imposed on Cumulus Media for a late upload of a single EEO Annual Public File Report (see our article here), and the FCC’s recent decision to bring back EEO Form 395 reporting on the race and gender of all station employees (see our article here), shows how seriously the FCC takes EEO obligations.Continue Reading FCC Issues First EEO Audit Notice for 2024 – 250 Radio and TV Stations To Have Employment Activities for the Last Two Years Reviewed