Feb 04 2020

WASHINGTON, DC—Live versus prerecorded matters with TV and radio broadcasting. More to the point, it matters to the FCC. Recently, the Salem Media Group was socked with a $50,000 fine for failing to disclose that a radio show was prerecorded and not live.

Womble Bond Dickinson Telecom attorney John Garziglia discussed the Salem case with Radio Ink, and previously has written about broadcasters’ responsibilities to disclose the live or prerecorded nature of programming.

In the Salem case, the FCC received a complaint about a broadcast of the HealthLine Live talk show that aired on KRLA in Glendale, Calif. The host took calls during the show, but never disclosed that the calls and the show were previously recorded. Other Salem stations also aired the HealthLine Live broadcast on a prerecorded basis.

The FCC ruled that Salem’s actions were in violation of Section 73.1208 of the FCC’s rules, which state, “Any taped, filmed or recorded program material in which time is of special significance, or by which an affirmative attempt is made to create the impression that it is occurring simultaneously with the broadcast, shall be announced at the beginning as taped, filmed or recorded.”

“Since this FCC rule was adopted, much has changed with the production and delivery of broadcast station programming.  Voice tracking was non-existent when this FCC rule was adopted as well as easy digital methods to delay programming. Because of changes in program delivery over the past several decades, it may be observed that while the FCC issued a pointed but brief decision invoking this pre-recorded programming rule based upon a complaint, the regulatory agency failed our regulated industry by reviving this rule without a full explanation of its current-day applicability to modern programming practices.”

John Garziglia

This is the first reported instance in decades of the FCC enforcing this rule.  Garziglia notes that because of this, he believes that the FCC should have taken the opportunity to more broadly explain how the decades old rule is applicable to current broadcasting practices and technology. He tells Radio Ink, “Since this FCC rule was adopted, much has changed with the production and delivery of broadcast station programming.  Voice tracking was non-existent when this FCC rule was adopted as well as easy digital methods to delay programming. Because of changes in program delivery over the past several decades, it may be observed that while the FCC issued a pointed but brief decision invoking this pre-recorded programming rule based upon a complaint, the regulatory agency failed our regulated industry by reviving this rule without a full explanation of its current-day applicability to modern programming practices.”

Click here to read “Why Salem Was Hit With $50,000 FCC Fine” in Radio Ink.

And click here to read John Garziglia’s 2016 column on “Managers: Be Sure You Know All FCC Rules,” also in Radio Ink.

John Garziglia represents radio and television broadcasters, offering personalized assistance in all areas of communications and telecommunications law including transactional and contract negotiations for broadcast station mergers and acquisitions, the securing of financing, governmental auctions of new frequencies, license renewals, new stations applications, facility changes, facility upgrades, licensing, and compliance with FCC rules, regulations and policies.