Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau issued an Advisory reminding broadcasters about their obligation to provide sponsorship identification information to their audiences whenever they receive something of value in exchange for airing any programming. The Enforcement Bureau’s advisory was quite concise, basically just reminding broadcasters of their sponsorship identification obligations. But the FCC also highlighted two other issues – (1) that broadcasters have an obligation to exercise reasonable diligence to make sure that any third-party program providers also include sponsorship identification when they are paid to include material in programs that they provide to the station and (2) the FCC can impose substantial fines on stations that do not live up to these obligations.
On the question of exercising reasonable diligence in insuring that program providers meet the sponsorship identification obligations, the FCC pointed to this language form Section 317(c) of the Communications Act:
The licensee of each radio station shall exercise reasonable diligence to obtain from its employees, and from other persons with whom it deals directly in connection with any program or program matter for broadcast, information to enable such licensee to make the announcement required by this section.
This means that a broadcaster needs to ask any party providing syndicated programming to a station to ensure that the rules are met. The same obligation would apply to time brokers who place programming on the station. The station owner needs to be sure that these programmers are aware of their obligations under the sponsorship identification rules, and that they observe those obligations. Reminders to program providers, and review of the programs that they provide, would seem to be part of this reasonable diligence obligation. We have previously written about this requirement – see for instance our article here.
Continue Reading FCC Issues Reminder On Sponsorship Identification Requirements – Including Obligation to Ensure Syndicated and Brokered Program Providers Comply With the Rules