Category Archives: Program Content

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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

GAO Finds Elimination of the Broadcast Exclusivity Rules Would Have “Varying Effects”

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, GAO Reports, Program Content
In a report to Congress released on April 14, 2015, the United States Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) found that the effects of eliminating the FCC’s network non-duplication and syndicated exclusivity rules would “depend on other federal actions and industry response.”  To arrive at this “conclusion,” the GAO reviewed comments filed by industry stakeholders (including numerous… Continue Reading

Commission Affirms that its Authority to Enforce Broadcast Indecency Rules Is Alive and Well; Issues First-Ever Maximum Fine for Indecency

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment, Indecency, Program Content
On March 23, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission proposed a fine of $325,000 – the maximum amount possible – against the licensee of television station WDBJ in Roanoke, Virginia for airing sexually explicit content during a newscast. According to the Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, WDBJ aired a video clip that included less than… 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

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

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

FCC Pulls Plug on Critical Information Needs Study

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment, Program Content
A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) statement issued late today indicates the agency will not just modify its Critical Information Needs (CIN) study but, rather, will not proceed with the study at all.  As explained in the statement:  “The FCC will not move forward with the Critical Information Needs study.  The Commission will reassess the best way… Continue Reading

FCC Chairman Wheeler Confirms: The FCC Will Not Regulate Broadcasters’ Speech, Through “Community Information Needs” Study or Otherwise

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment, Program Content
In response to a December 2013 letter sent by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Wheeler has publicly confirmed that the FCC “has no intention of regulating the political or other speech of journalists or broadcasters.”  Chairman Wheeler’s letter response and an accompanying statement were issued in response… Continue Reading

CNN Wins Latest Round in Video Captioning Dispute, But More to Come

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, First Amendment, Online Video, Program Content
Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit noted CNN’s “protected right to report the news” in reversing a lower court decision that allowed a lawsuit involving CNN’s decision not to caption certain online video to move forward.  While the court acknowledged the import of preserving CNN’s ability to make independent editorial decisions… Continue Reading

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Issues New Guidance to Media Concerning False Weight Loss Claims in Ads; Sen. McCaskill Urges Prompt Compliance and Promises Hearing

Posted in Advertising Issues, Broadcast Regulation, Program Content
As many consumers have just made new year’s resolutions to slim down and shape up, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced a new initiative – called “Operation Failed Resolution” – aimed at cracking down on false and deceptive claims made by marketers of fad weight loss products.  As part of this initiative, the FTC… Continue Reading

Predicting the Media Landscape in 2014

Posted in Broadcast Attribution, Broadcast Regulation, Copyright, First Amendment, Privacy, Program Content
2013 proved to be a transformative year for the media industry.  We saw the M&A market heat up, with Sinclair, Gannett, Tribune, and Gray all growing their broadcast portfolios, while iconic names such as Belo, Fisher, and Allbritton either departed or entered into agreements to depart the broadcast field.  This past year saw digital rights… Continue Reading

FCC Seeks Comment on Closed Captioning for Online Video Clips

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Online Video, Program Content
The FCC has issued a Public Notice seeking updated information on the quantity, quality, and availability of closed captioning for online video clips.  The IP captioning rules, issued less than two years ago, apply only to full-length programming and exempt video clips, defined as “excerpts of full-length programming,” unless in the aggregate they constitute all,… Continue Reading

Members of Congress Question FCC on “Critical Information Needs” Study, Suggesting Attempt to Revive Fairness Doctrine

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Program Content
UPDATED On December 10, 2013, Fred Upton (R-MI), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, and several other members of the Communications and Technology subcommittee (including subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR)) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler asking about the FCC’s announcement that it would soon commence a field… Continue Reading

Legislation Legalizing Online Gambling Introduced in U.S. House

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Program Content
On June 6, 2013, Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) introduced legislation that would legalize online gambling at the federal level.  According to media reports, The Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act of 2013 establishes a federal regulatory regime for online gaming, including a uniform set of controls and protections to prevent underage and compulsive… Continue Reading

Supreme Court: Five-Year Statute of Limitations for FCC to Sue to Collect Fines Begins to Run on Date of Violation

Posted in Broadcast Regulation, Program Content
The FCC’s Public Notice indicating that it has cleared a large backlog of indecency complaints because many were “beyond the statute of limitations” (covered in a previous client alert) may have left some broadcasters wondering whether they are among those that are now in the clear but just don’t know it yet.  Until earlier this year, we… Continue Reading