The FCC has issued an Enforcement Advisory reminding broadcasters that they must comply with all sponsorship identification laws. Federal law and the FCC’s rules require broadcast radio and television stations to disclose when programming has been paid for by sponsors.
The Advisory states that when a broadcast station airs paid-for programming without disclosing the sponsor, the public can be misled. An announcement or program that is paid-for, but not identified as such, can appear to be a station’s editorial content. This can create an unfair advantage to the undisclosed sponsor over competitors whose paid-for material is properly disclosed.
The Advisory shows that the FCC is closely monitoring sponsorship identification compliance. Fines for violations of the sponsorship identification rules can be large, because the FCC considers each airing of a program or advertisement that does not contain proper identification as a separate violation. For example, a large radio broadcaster was recently fined $233,000 for airing paid programming and advertisements that did not contain adequate sponsorship identifications, and failing to promptly self-report those violations to the FCC despite its agreement to do so under a prior Consent Decree.
If you have any questions about compliance with the sponsorship identification laws, law, please contact any attorney in our office.