Category Archives: Advertising Issues

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FTC Targets Drug Personal Injury Ads in Warning Letters

Posted in Advertising Issues, FTC
Last week the Federal Trade Commission announced that it sent multiple warning letters about television advertisements soliciting clients for personal injury lawsuits against drug manufacturers.  While not identifying specific ads, the FTC provided some guidance around the kinds of advertisements that it thought may have crossed the line, and suggested language that similar ads should… Continue Reading

Political Advertising 101: A Refresher Course for Very Busy People (2019 Update)

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Political Broadcasting
If the initial excitement you feel at the prospect of what will hopefully be another bountiful political advertising market quickly gives way to a sick, uneasy feeling as you try to recall the FCC’s rather complex, and often confusing, political broadcasting rules, then this “update” is for you.  Although there haven’t been any significant changes… Continue Reading

Bill Would Expand Reporting and Disclosure Requirements for Online Political Ads

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Political Broadcasting
On October 19, 2017, Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota introduced a bill, co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Warner (D-VA) and John McCain (R-AZ), aimed at regulating online political advertising.  The bill, dubbed the “Honest Ads Act,” would require online platforms to identify the purchasers of certain political ads, maintain a “public file” containing specific information… Continue Reading

FTC Sends (Another) Warning That Endorsers Must Disclose Connections to Products, Brands, or Services in Any Form of Media

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Contests
When thinking about the regulations they must comply with, most broadcasters focus primarily, if not exclusively, upon the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). But there is at least one other federal agency that deserves attention, and that is the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). This is particularly true when endorsements, contests, and other marketing activities are in… Continue Reading

FTC Workshop Shines Additional Light on Need for Effective Disclosures

Posted in Advertising Issues, Program Content
At a recent Federal Trade Commission (FTC) workshop, the focus was squarely on how advertisers and marketers should ensure the effectiveness of consumer disclosures, particularly on new digital platforms. Terming the topic one of “exceptional importance” that has been under study for more than one hundred years, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez opened the workshop by… Continue Reading

New E-Cig Advertising Rules To Go Into Effect on August 8, 2016

Posted in Advertising Issues
On August 8, 2016, new rules issued by the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) will go into effect concerning radio, television and online advertisements for electronic cigarettes (“e-cigs”) and other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (including e-hookah, vape pens, advanced refillable personal vaporizers, and electronic pipes), regular size or large cigars, pipe tobacco, and certain other… Continue Reading

With the “Big Game” Approaching, Stations Should Be Careful About Use of Trademarks in Their Broadcasts and Promotions

Posted in Advertising Issues, Contests, Trademark
With the “Big Game” Approaching, Stations Should Be Careful About Use of Trademarks in Their Broadcasts and Promotions// When the National Football League (NFL) holds Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco on February 7, 2016, it will use Arabic numerals for the first time. Even without the characteristic Roman numerals, the term “Super Bowl” remains… Continue Reading

Low Power FM Fined for Underwriting Announcements

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation
On Friday, February 27, 2015, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau released an Order imposing a $16,000 fine on WQAZ-LP, a low power FM station, for broadcasting underwriting announcements that were impermissible because they too closely resembled commercials.  (Low-power FM radio stations are licensed to provide noncommercial, locally oriented programming to their communities.)  Under the Commission’s “enhanced… Continue Reading

Third Month of the Year Craziness Contest! Be Careful to Avoid Trademark Issues when Conducting Contests

Posted in Advertising Issues, Contests, First Amendment, Trademark
As college basketball play-off season and the Super Bowl approach, we thought it a good time to remind broadcasters about the trademark issues that often crop up in contests this time of year.  Contests related to March Madness and the Super Bowl are popular, but the use of the proper names of these sporting events… Continue Reading

FCC Reaffirms Forfeitures Totaling $1.4 Million for Alleged Misuse of EAS Tones

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation
The FCC is standing behind its proposed forfeitures against Viacom and ESPN for allegedly misusing the EAS tones in a movie trailer.  As we previously wrote, in March 2014, the FCC proposed almost $2 million in combined fines against Viacom, NBCUniversal, and ESPN based on allegations that these programmers repeatedly transmitted a trailer for the… Continue Reading

Breaking News (or not)! Broadcaster Agrees to Six Figure Penalty For Car Ads Allegedly Styled As News Reports

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Program Content
A Las Vegas broadcast station paid a $115,000 penalty for not disclosing that purported “Special Reports” were actually paid announcements, a serious violation of the FCC’s sponsorship identification rule. In 2009, the station produced and broadcast so-called “Special Reports” on liquidation sales at local car dealerships.  The commercials featured a station employee posing as a… Continue Reading

FTC to Advertisers and Media: Make Adequate Disclosures, Otherwise Face Potential Enforcement Actions for “Deceptive” Ads

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation
Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff have been making the rounds to remind advertisers and media outlets how important it is to make adequate disclosures in ads, including during a marketing law conference that members of Wiley Rein’s media group attended earlier this month.  This follows the launch in September of the FTC’s “Operation Full Disclosure,”… Continue Reading

GAO Report Explains Sponsorship Identification Rules for Issue Ads Aired by Television and Radio Stations and Reaffirms Death of Fairness Doctrine

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Copyright, First Amendment, GAO Reports, Political Broadcasting, Program Content, Spectrum
The General Accountability Office (“GAO”) has issued a report regarding the disclosure requirements that apply to, and broadcaster practices concerning, content that affects broadcasters’ interests and may be intended to influence Congress.  The GAO report responds to a request of Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who has supported legislation requiring radio stations to pay performance royalties… Continue Reading

What Broadcasters Don’t Know About Political Advertisers Can’t Hurt Them (At Least With the FCC)

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment, Political Broadcasting
Broadcasters are not required to affirmatively investigate the identity of entities purchasing political advertising time, the FCC’s Media Bureau has reaffirmed.  In a letter dismissing complaints against two television stations, FCC political chief Bobby Baker stated that, “unless furnished with credible, unrefuted evidence that a sponsor is acting at the direction of a third party,… Continue Reading

Think You Can Require Contest Entrants to “Like” Your Page? Not Anymore! Says Facebook

Posted in Advertising Issues, Contests
Facebook has announced a policy change that is likely to alter the manner in which many companies conduct contests and promotions using the social networking website.  Under existing Facebook policy, contests and other promotions frequently required entrants or those seeking to take advantage of a promotion to “like” a Facebook page before seeing certain content… Continue Reading

Caution When Accepting Ads for Weight-Loss Products—If a Claim Sounds Too Good to Be True, it Probably Is! And the FTC and Congress Are Watching.

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Program Content
 On June 17, 2014, the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection held a hearing entitled “Protecting Consumers from False and Deceptive Advertising of Weight-Loss Products,” during which media outlets were urged to pay closer attention to the accuracy of claims made in ads for weight-loss products.  This hearing followed through on a promise made by Subcommittee… Continue Reading

Mobile Apps Need Privacy Policies Too

Posted in Advertising Issues, Privacy
Seemingly everyone today makes available a smartphone mobile application.  What information does your company’s app collect?  Does it copy the user’s address book and, if so, why?  And, importantly, has your company’s privacy policy been updated to disclose these facts to users?  Where? Businesses should ensure that their mobile app privacy practices are reflected in… Continue Reading

Have You Updated Your Privacy Policy Lately?

Posted in Advertising Issues, Privacy
Although California’s Online Privacy Protection Act establishes in practical effect a national baseline for privacy policies, numerous other state laws, federal laws, compilations of industry best practices impose still other obligations on businesses and their privacy policies. Massachusetts and Nevada, for example, in recent years have enacted data security laws that may apply to personal… Continue Reading

Have New Laws Made Your Privacy Policy Obsolete And Incomplete?

Posted in Advertising Issues, Privacy
Even if a website’s data collection and sharing practices have not changed, laws and regulations do.  And a website’s privacy policy must keep pace. In particular, certain recent changes mean that most company privacy policies may no longer meet legal requirements.  For example, under recent amendments to the California Online Privacy Protection Act, commercial websites… Continue Reading

Lose 20 Lbs in One Week Without Diet or Exercise!* (FTC Promulgates New Tool for Spotting False Claims)

Posted in Advertising Issues
Just in time for bathing suit season, the Federal Trade Commission recently updated its advice to broadcasters about how to spot false claims in weight loss advertisements.  The FTC’s hope is that broadcasters will “think twice” before airing ads that seem too good to be true. After consulting with scientists, the FTC compiled a list… Continue Reading

#Hashtag This – Disclosure Needed When Using Endorsements as a Method of Contest Entry

Posted in Advertising Issues, Contests
The Federal Trade Commission recently issued a closing letter to high-end shoe retailer Cole Haan that has implications for broadcasters conducting contests on social media platforms like Twitter and Pinterest.  The letter concerned a contest, called “WanderingSole,” that Cole Haan promoted on Pinterest.  The contest asked people to create Pinterest boards using images of Cole… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Strikes Down Federal Aggregate Contribution Limits

Posted in Advertising Issues, First Amendment
The Supreme Court issued its much-anticipated opinion in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission this week, striking down the federal aggregate contribution limits as unconstitutional under the First Amendment.  Importantly, the base contribution limits—that is, the amount an individual may contribute to a specific federal candidate, political party, or political action committee—remain unchanged and were not… Continue Reading