The FCC today issued two fines to stations who violated the FCC’s rule against airing phone calls for which permission had not been received before the call was either taped for broadcast or aired live.  We’ve written about other fines for the violation of this rule, Section 73.1206, many times (see here, here, and here).  What was interesting about the new cases is that they made clear that a station needs to get permission to record or broadcast the phone call even before the person at the other end of the line says "hello."  

In one case, the station was broadcasting using a tape delay.  The station placed a call to a local restaurant and, when the person at the other end of the line said hello, the station DJ informed the restaurant employee that he was being broadcast and asked if that was OK.  The person responded "yep."  But he changed his mind later in the call.  The station claimed that, had the person not given permission, the tape delay would have allowed the call to be dumped but, as permission was given, the station continued to run with the conversation on the air. The FCC found that insufficient, as permission had not been received prior to the person saying hello.  The second case was much more straightforward – a wake up call by the station to a randomly selected phone number.  While the station immediately informed the person who answered the phone that the call was on the air – that did not happen until the recipient of the call had already said hello.  In the first case, the fine was $6000 – in the second, $3200.


Continue Reading More Fines for Stations That Broadcast Telephone Conversations Without Prior Permission – Permission After “Hello” Is Too Late

We’ve written about the FCC rules against broadcasting phone calls without permission of the person at the other end of the line.  Specifically, we’ve written about the FCC’s decision that held that these rules prevent the broadcast of people’s voicemail messages without their permission, and about the FCC’s decision to fine a station even though

Watch what your employees are up to. That’s the message of a recent decision by the FCC, fining a broadcaster $4000 for airing a telephone call that was taped and broadcast without the consent of the caller. In the case released earlier this week, the licensee asked for forgiveness based on the fact that the employee had already left the employment of the station, and because the licensee did not know of the conduct, could not even confirm that it occurred, and did not condone that conduct if it had in fact taken place. Essentially, the FCC found that the evidence provided by the caller who complained to the FCC was so convincing that the Commission could conclude that the call had in fact been aired without the caller’s consent even though the licensee could not confirm it, and the licensee was responsible for the actions of its employees. This sends the clear message to licensees that they must carefully supervise their employees, and think twice about putting that “wild and crazy” disc jockey on the air if the licensee thinks that he won’t be restrained by the Commission’s rules.

This case is another example of the FCC’s rules against airing phone calls without the consent of the caller (or taping those calls for airing without consent), except in the limited circumstances where a caller should know from the context of the program that, by calling the station, he will be put on the air. For instance, if the caller calls on a call-in line to an on-air show where the stations employees are regularly putting callers on the air, then the station should not have problems under the rules. But broadcasters are safest if they are cautious with such phone calls – warning callers with a taped or live message that there call may be taped or put on the air before the taping or airing occurs


Continue Reading Fine for Airing Telephone Call Without Permission – Unauthorized Employee No Excuse