A radio broadcaster will pay $50,000 because its stations failed to announce that certain programs it aired as “live” were actually prerecorded. As part of a consent decree, Salem Media Group will pay $50,000 and also implement an extensive compliance plan.
In the program, which was called HealthLine Live, the host suggested he was taking live calls and speaking with listeners on the air in real time. In fact, the program was prerecorded.
The FCC requires broadcasters to inform their listeners and viewers that a program is prerecorded if the program appears to be live but actually is not. Under the FCC’s rules, any prerecorded program in which time is of a special significance, or that creates the impression that the program is live, must be announced as prerecorded. At a minimum, an announcement must be made at the beginning of the program, although broadcasters are free to make announcements more than once, including during the course of the show. Commercial, promotional, and public service announcements are exempt from the requirement.
Stations should always give notice to their audiences when airing recorded programming, such as call-in and talk shows, that may give the impression that the shows are live. Such shows could include repeats or “greatest hits” that air when a host is sick or on vacation.
If you have questions about the FCC’s rules regarding broadcasts of prerecorded materials, please contact any attorney in our office.