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FCC Issues Reminders on Sponsorship IDs, Sharing Agreements for Broadcasters

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—The FCC has issued a pair of reminders from its Enforcement Bureau and Media Bureau instructing broadcasters to provide sponsorship identification disclosures and sharing agreements in Online Public Inspection Files (OPIF).

First, the Enforcement Bureau public notice reminds broadcasters that they are obligated to comply with Sponsorship Identification Laws and the Communications Act of 1934, which requires them to disclose sponsors of paid-for programming. Not disclosing sponsor information “can mislead the public and promote unfair competition,” the notice reads.

Consequences for violating the Sponsorship Identification Laws, per the public notice, can lead to sanctions, including imprisonment or monetary forfeitures. 

The Media Bureau’s public notice restates the obligation for commercial broadcast licensees to include every “sharing” agreement pertaining to the operation of the station in their OPIF within 30 days. This also covers agreements under which a station provides or collaborates to provide station-related services to any stations with which it is not under common de jure control.

“Regardless of how an agreement is styled or labeled, if it covers the provision of programming time,  sales of advertising or provision of services among commercial broadcast stations, it must be retained in the station’s OPIF,” the notice details.

The Media Bureau also noted that if broadcasters are uncertain about certain agreements, they should err on the side of inclusion.

The FCC has made available the complete notices from the Enforcement Bureau and the Media Bureau available online.