In 2008, the FCC adopted a requirement that broadcast stations include in their advertising contracts a provision that says that advertisers will not discriminate on the basis of race or gender. We wrote about that requirement here, and our post was greeted with significant surprise by many broadcasters as the requirement did not glean much publicity when it was first adopted. Today, the FCC issued an Erratum to that two year old requirement, eliminating from the certification its application to discrimination in advertising based on gender. Instead, the Erratum stated it was only discrimination based on race or ethnicity that was prohibited. The Erratum stated that this language "more accurately" reflected the "Commission’s clear intent" in adopting the requirement for the certification in advertising contracts.
The removal of "gender" from the advertising discrimination certification seems to recognize the common-sense advertising principal that some advertising, by its very nature, may be targeted to one gender or another. But the correction of this language through an Erratum seems to avoid many of the hard issues that remain with this certification. The Commission was very terse in its explanation of how this certification was supposed to work and exactly what it was supposed to prevent. There were certain situations that seem to fit within the prohibitions – situations where the advertiser of a general market product refuses to allow it to be advertised on stations that target minority audiences (see our discussion of the Mini Cooper advertising controversy here). This was to avoid the "no Spanish, no urban dictates", ruling out advertising on stations with urban formats or those programmed in Spanish, that some felt were attached to some advertising orders. But there are many other questions that remain to be clarified.