Payola and Sponsorship Identification

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’s Media Bureau announced that August 15 is the effective date of the FCC’s expanded foreign government sponsorship identification

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.

  • The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the longstanding Chevron doctrine, which required Courts to defer to expert regulatory agencies, like the

The lazy days of summer continue to provide little respite from the regulatory actions of importance to broadcasters.  This month brings quarterly requirements, including most importantly, the obligation to upload Quarterly Issues Programs Lists to a station’s online public file, and a number of comment deadlines in important FCC proceedings, as well as the opening of political windows in this major election year.  So, even if the beach chair is calling, remember to keep an eye on dates that can affect your stations. 

The regulatory date that all full-power broadcasters should have circled on their calendars is July 10, the deadline by which all full-power radio and TV stations (as well as Class A television stations), both commercial and noncommercial, must upload to their online public inspection files their Quarterly Issues/Program lists for the second quarter of 2024.  The lists should identify the issues of importance to the station’s community and the programs that the station aired between April 1 and June 30, 2024 that addressed those issues.  It is important that these be timely uploaded to your public file, as the untimely uploads of these documents probably have resulted in more fines in the last decade than for any other violation of the FCC’s rules.  As you finalize your lists, do so carefully and accurately, as they are the only official records of how your station is serving the public and addressing the needs and interests of its community.  See our article here for more on the importance of the Quarterly Issues/Programs list obligation.Continue Reading July Regulatory Dates for Broadcasters – Quarterly Issues/Programs Lists, Comment Deadlines in Multiple Proceedings, Political Windows, and More

Last week, the FCC released its long-expected decision on foreign government sponsored programming.  As you will recall, in 2022, the FCC adopted rules that required enhanced sponsorship identifications when program time bought (or, in the FCC’s words, “leased”) on broadcast stations was sponsored by a foreign government or an agent of a foreign government.  In addition, it required broadcasters to verify whether program buyers were agents of foreign governments, both by getting certifications from program buyers as to whether they represented foreign governments and by checking a Department of Justice database (compiled under the Foreign Agents Registration Act) to see if the buyer was registered as a foreign agent (see our articles here and here).  When a court threw out the requirement that broadcasters check those databases (see our article here), the FCC responded with a Second Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposing that, instead of the FARA research, broadcasters needed to obtain a 13-paragraph certification as to whether any program buyer was a foreign government entity, and to include in the public file all such certifications, regardless of the response (as opposed to the existing requirement only obligating the broadcaster to put certifications in the public file when they indicated that the buyer was in fact an agent of a foreign government) (see our articles here and here on that proposal).  In the order released last week, the FCC decided not to require that enhanced certification (or the requirement to put negative responses into the public file), but instead came up with an unexpected addition to the requirement – that certifications must be obtained not just from buyers of program time, but also from buyers of advertising spot time, if the advertisers are not promoting commercial products and services. 

The order simplifies the certification requirement from the detailed multi-page certification in complex legalese that had been proposed in the Second Notice.  Instead, the FCC offers a relatively short certification (contained in Appendix D of the order) for program buyers to sign, with two basic questions – whether any foreign government entity ( a foreign government, a foreign political party, or an agent of one of those groups) is the purchaser of the programming; and whether the purchaser or any producer of the programming is being paid by a foreign government entity.  In the vast majority of cases, we expect that the answer to both questions will be “no.”  In the event that a programmer or program producer is an agent of a foreign government, then an additional question applies, requiring that the programmer provide the licensee appropriate sponsorship identification information for the enhanced on-air sponsorship identifications and for the required public file disclosure obligations.  Even using this FCC form questionnaire is not necessary, if the licensee can obtain that information using different words.  So, in at least some instances, broadcasters may be able to continue to use their existing certification language. Consult your attorney to see if the language you are using will comply with what the FCC will require when this order becomes effective. Continue Reading FCC Releases Decision on Broadcaster’s Obligations to Identify Foreign Government Sponsored Programming – There is Some Good News, and Some Bad News Affecting Issue Ads

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 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’s Media Bureau announced the opening of two filing windows for Class A TV, LPTV, and TV translator stations:

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.

In October 2022, I noted in an article that many broadcasters were totally confused by the FCC’s rules requiring that they seek certifications as to whether or not a foreign government is behind anyone buying programming time on a broadcast station.  In our 2022 article, we noted that, even though broadcasters did not fully understand the existing rule, the FCC was considering expanding that requirement to require use of a specific form to obtain these certifications from program buyers.  From notices filed with the FCC recently, it appears that there have been several meetings with the Commission and representatives of the broadcasting community about these proposed enhanced certifications, making it appear that the FCC is nearing a decision.  It appears that the new certifications, if adopted, will be very cumbersome, particularly for the unsophisticated program buyers who are likely to be many of the buyers of program time on small market stations.  These buyers are likely to find the certification process somewhat intimidating, and may even be scared off from buying any broadcast programming time as a result.  We thought we should take another look at what is already required and what is now being proposed.

Currently, the certifications that broadcasters must obtain from a program buyer must indicate that the programmer is not a “foreign government entity,” a term that includes any foreign government or foreign-government owned entity, an agent of a foreign government, or someone who has been paid by a foreign government to produce the program.  As we noted (see our articles here and here), the rules requiring these certifications went into effect on March 15, 2022 for any new agreements effective after that date, and September 15, 2022 for obtaining certifications from programmers who were already on the air as of March 15.  They cover not only those who buy program time on a broadcast station, but also those that provide program time free to broadcasters with the understanding that the programming will be aired.  The certifications do not cover programming that the broadcaster buys (either for money or through barter – including by giving the programming supplier advertising time that the programmer can resell in exchange for the programming).  And they are not required for spot advertising buys. Continue Reading FCC Still Reviewing Plan to Expand Broadcasters’ Obligations to Obtain Certifications from All Program Buyers on their Connection to Foreign Governments – What is Being Proposed?