Getting Started: Legal

Back to top

Laws and Regulations

Since broadcasting is a regulated industry, numerous federal and state laws and regulations apply to public and commercial radio stations. For the most part, these are obligations imposed on the broadcaster, not on the program producer. However, the program producer is also bound by a series of laws, including those which the broadcaster seeks to fulfill through the program producer, as well as laws applicable directly to the program producer, such as copyright and libel laws.

The PRSS website makes no attempt to address comprehensively all laws which apply to broadcasters and program producers; rather, it summarizes the current status of those laws which most directly affect program producers. Because of the complexity of these laws, and the changes to which any body of law is constantly subject, the program producer should consult his/her own legal counsel to obtain further analysis and advice regarding the listed laws and any other laws. The NPR General Counsel's Office cannot render legal advice to individual stations or program producers.

  • Defamation and Libel
  • Copyright, Labor, and Other Program Rights
  • Obligations of Broadcasters Which May Affect the Program Producer
  • Use of Taped Conversations
  • Non-discrimination
  • Resource Materials

Defamation and Libel

Defamation (otherwise known as libel or slander) is defined as an expression that injures reputation. Broadcasters and others are held to different standards of fault for statements they make (or quote others for having made or published) if the person being spoken of is a "private citizen" or a "public figure," or if the issue is of public concern. The law in the area of libel is complex.

A number of elements must be present to establish a claim of libel. These are: publication-the statement was communicated to others; identification-the statement is reasonably understood by those who know the person as referring to that person; damages-the statement caused actual injury, which can in some instances be presumed or implied from the fact of the libelous statement; and fault.

The standard of fault, which is the crucial element of a libel, varies. Truth is a defense to a libel claim. A statement about a public figure will be libelous if made with "actual malice," that is, "knowing falsity" or "reckless disregard of the truth." Steps and care taken by the program producer to ascertain the truth, to check the facts with multiple sources, and to edit will be taken into account in determining whether actual malice or reckless disregard is present.

The Supreme Court has narrowed the definition of what constitutes protected "opinion." (See Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co., et al., 497 U.S. 1 (1990).) Pure statements of opinion which can never be proved false (or true) are fully protected as are statements of rhetoric or hyperbole. But statements of "opinion" which can reasonably be interpreted as stating or implying assertions of fact which are provable as false are not pure opinion and can constitute the basis of a defamation claim.

If the plaintiff is not a public figure or the matter is not one of public concern, state law applies in determining the appropriate standard of fault. Ordinarily, this involves concepts of simple negligence. Because the First Amendment protects speech, liability cannot be imposed without fault, and generally punitive damages will not be allowed without some showing of fault. Care in reporting and in editing is essential.

Copyright, Labor, and Other Program Rights

A program producer must assure that he/she has the right to use each element in the program produced for the purposes for which the program will be used. These purposes may include one-time or multiple-time broadcast, and non-broadcast uses (including cassettes, web casts, web archives, and other media). In general, the program producer will want to assure that he/she has obtained rights to use any material owned or copyrighted by another, any material to which another has contributed his/her labor, and any material over which another has control by contract.

 

Use of Copyrighted Material

The Copyright Act of 1976 (17 U.S.C. sections 101 and following) provides a unified national system for statutory protection of original works created by authors. Copyright protection under the statute is extended to original works of authorship such as literary works (computer programs, ceratin types of data bases); musical works (including accompanying words); dramatic works (including accompanying music); pictorial, graphic and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works (including the sound element of those works); sound recordings, compilations of sound recordings; and certain digital transmissions of these works. However, copyright protection does not extend to ideas or facts (one can copyright the expression of ideas or facts only); titles and short phrases (though names, slogans, and logos are often protected by trademark laws); public domain works (works which cannot be copyrighted or for which copyright protection has expired); and most United States government works (works prepared by government employees in the course of their official duties). Copyright protection grants authors exclusive rights to their works, and the right to control the uses of those works by others, except where those exclusive rights are limited by the statute or where the statute grants to others a compulsory license in the work.

The limits in the statute, and the compulsory licenses, mean that others, including program producers in limited circumstances, may use the work without prior permission from the copyright holder (usually the creator or a license-holding society); however, where compulsory licenses are involved, the copyright user may have to pay the copyright holder for such uses. It is safest to assume that the program producer must obtain approval, preferably written, in advance (often for a fee) from the copyright holder before using the copyrighted work of another, or check with an attorney.

  1. Music Licenses for Over-the-Air Broadcast by Public Broadcasting Entities. The Copyright Act provides that certain groups of copyrighted material can be used by specific entities for certain purposes, without obtaining prior permission from the copyright holder. That is, the statute grants a "compulsory license" in the work to the user. To assure that these provisions are constitutional, the Act provides for payment to the copyright holder by one means or another. Section 118 of the Copyright Act grants a compulsory license for the use of published nondramatic musical compositions in the production and transmission of programs by public broadcasting. Fees for use of such musical works are paid through licensing agreements between public broadcasting entities and the major licensing societies (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, and Harry Fox Agency), which are currently in effect through December 31, 2007. These agreements grant covered station licensees and producers working on their behalf the right to use the nondramatic music in the repertoires of those societies in public broadcasting. In addition, the agreement with Harry Fox Agency permits the making of tapes for use as part of the broadcast (recording rights). A program producer should check the exact terms of the license agreements and of the established rates before relying on them. These described rights cover noncommercial public broadcasting use of programming by CPB-eligible and CPB-qualified public radio stations. Program producers using the public radio satellite interconnection system for commercial programming or commercial use of noncommercial programming are not covered by these negotiated agreements.
     
  2. Other Music Rights. Section 114 of the Copyright Act contains an exemption permitting the inclusion of sound recordings in public broadcasting programs transmitted by over-the-air broadcast, except that copies of the programs may not be commercially distributed to the general public. Therefore, subject to a series of specified rules, copies of sound recordings made for public radio broadcast use do not require payment of a royalty. Digital transmissions of music and sound recordings over the Internet or by other new technological means are outside the scope of this Users Guide. Similarly, section 112 permits public broadcasters already licensed or otherwise authorized to copy copyrighted sound recordings (records and cassettes) to make one copy of the program which includes the copyrighted work. This so-called ephemeral recording provision is designed to permit broadcasters to schedule broadcast of programs at convenient times. This copy is generally discarded after broadcast or kept for archival use.
     
  3. Other Materials. The compulsory license does not cover use of dramatic musical works (i.e., ballets, operas and musicals, musical works which tell a story or are used in a way so as to tell a story), or any use of non-musical works (a play, periodical, literature, poetry, etc.). The program producer must negotiate a license for use of such materials with the copyright holder. In addition, anyone who wishes to record or "fix" sounds or sounds and images of a live musical performance, including certain studio recordings, must secure the consent of all the performers (17 U.S.C. section 1101). For your protection the consent should be written and reviewed with counsel.
     
  4. Special Uses of Copyright Material. Certain uses of copyrighted material are permitted under the Copyright Act, even though they may otherwise seem to be an infringement.
     
    1. Fair Use. "Fair use" of limited amounts of material from a published copyrighted work is permitted (section 107 of the Act). There are no bright line rules for determining whether use of material is a "fair use" for which no license need be obtained, or for determining payment for such use. The statute provides that "fair use" is determined by weighing four factors: the purpose of the use, including whether the use is commercial or for nonprofit educational purposes; the nature of the copyrighted work; the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and the effect of the use on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. The significance of each factor to a finding of fair use will vary with each case. In general, limited use of small clips or excerpts of a work in a movie review or a news story will be regarded as a fair use; however, a use, even of small portions that is not a "transformative" use, that takes the essence of the work, or that has an effect on the market for the original work, is less likely to be deemed a fair use. The scope of fair use of an unpublished work is generally narrower than for published works.
       
    2. Other Exemptions. Other special uses include the instructional transmission exemption which permits not-for-profit educational institutions and governmental bodies to include the performances and displays of nondramatic literary and musical works in instructional programs under specified conditions (section 110(2) of the Act); and the performance under specified conditions of nondramatic literary works without license by public broadcasters and governmental bodies, if those transmissions are specifically designed for and primarily directed to the blind or deaf (section 110(8) of the Act)

 

Copyrighting the Program

Copyright law also provides a means to protect programming which the program supplier produces. Most programs will meet the original works requirements; they can be copyrighted by being "fixed" in a tangible medium—either written, before broadcast, or recorded simultaneously with public dissemination. The rights that are part of the "copyright" attach with fixation.

In March 1989, the United States became a signatory to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works ("Berne"). Congress passed amendments to the U.S. Copyright Act to enable the U.S. to sign the Convention. As a member of Berne, the U.S. and other member nations must extend copyright protection to foreign copyright owners. Although most of the provisions of the Copyright Act of 1976 were unaffected by the Berne membership, there are some changes which are important to note.

One of the major changes under the revised Copyright Act is the copyright notice requirement. Under the 1976 law, notice of copyright on publicly distributed works was mandatory. Now, mandatory notice has been abolished for works published for the first time on or after March 1, 1989. However, all works published before that date must continue to have a copyright notice affixed each time they are reissued or republished. In addition, the use of notice on works first published on or after March 1, 1989, still has significant benefits and is recommended. For example, use of a copyright notice reduces the likelihood that a person could successfully raise an innocent infringer defense and reduce the damages awarded in an infringement action. Any inadvertent omission of notice should be remedied on subsequent copies of a work. However, registration of a work with the Library of Congress is a prerequisite to recovering certain kinds of statutory and attorney's fees damages. A notice of copyright sound recordings should include a symbol, the year of first publication, and the name of the copyright owner. It is suggested you separately indicate copyright in underlying material by including the © symbol. Copyright practice permits and © together. For further information about registering works, contact the Library of Congress, or visit the website at www.loc.gov/copyright.

 

Labor Rights

Material used by program suppliers often includes actors, singers, and others who "work" in the program. Often, such workers are covered by agreements with local or national unions, such as the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists (AFTRA), the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), and the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA). Program suppliers should assure that any talent they use in their programs is being used in conformity with any applicable union agreements.

Obligations of Broadcasters Which May Affect the Program Producer

The FCC imposes a number of requirements on broadcast licensees. While these are obligations of the broadcaster and not the program supplier, the broadcaster, in seeking to comply with them, may want to assure that the program supplier is providing programming which does not adversely affect the broadcaster's compliance with those requirements.

Sponsor Identification and Underwriting

The Communications Act (47 U.S.C. section 317) and FCC regulations (47 C.F.R. section 73.1212) require that all licensees identify the names of sponsors that have either promised or provided money, goods, services, or other valuable consideration to the station for transmission of a program. The station must announce that the transmission is sponsored, paid for, or furnished, either in whole or in part, and by whom or on whose behalf such consideration has been provided. The station will therefore want to know who has contributed to the program supplier's programming. In addition, stations may give underwriting credit to those who have made contributions to the station.

While the requirements for underwriting credits are detailed, in general announcements which identify but which do not compare or promote are permissible. The FCC distinguishes between announcements made on behalf of profit-making entities and those on behalf of not-for-profit entities. (See generally a series of Memorandum Opinions and Orders, in FCC Docket No. 21136.)

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 contained a provision affecting the tax treatment of corporate sponsorship revenue received by tax-exempt organizations. The statute generally adopts the distinction between "acknowledgement" and "advertisement" that is embodied in the Communications Act and FCC regulation of underwriting announcements. However, there is no explicit safe harbor for public broadcasters. In addition, the language of the new provision differs from that of the Communications Act. For instance, the new tax provision does not differentiate between for-profit and not-for-profit sponsors.

On April 25, 2002, the Treasury Department issued the final regulations, implementing the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. The regulations apply to all payments received by an exempt organization on or after December 31, 1997.

Under the final regulations, payments received in exchange for non-promotional uses or acknowledgments of a funder's name, logo, or product lines constitute "qualified sponsorship" payments exempt from federal taxation. If, however, a use or acknowledgment of a sponsor were to cross the line into advertising by promoting the sponsor or its products or services, the use or acknowledgment would constitute a "substantial return benefit." Unless there were other aspects to the arrangement or other, non-promotional underwriting credits broadcast in exchange for the payment, the entire amount of the payment would be subject to UBIT.

Unlike the Communications Act and the FCC's underwriting rules and policies, the final tax regulations do not differentiate between for-profit sponsors and not-for-profit or other sponsors. Accordingly, the broadcasting of promotional underwriting announcements, regardless of the legal nature of the funder, may constitute "advertising" for tax purposes, and the revenue associated with such announcements may be taxable unrelated business income.

Under the final regulations, an exempt organization must account for benefits provided to a given sponsor when the value of benefits exceeds two (2%) percent of the amount of the donation. This means, for instance, if a particular sponsor contributes $10,000 and the station or producer acknowledges the contribution through non-promotional acknowledgments and provides certain premiums that have a collective value of $200, the entire amount would be exempt. If the collective value of the premiums were $300, however, that amount would constitute a "substantial return benefit," and only the amount of the payment in excess of that amount would constitute a "qualified sponsorship payment."

With respect to other issues, the Treasury Department clarified to some extent the treatment of Internet hyperlinks, indicating that a non-promotional link from an exempt organization's website constitutes a mere acknowledgment, while a link to a sponsor's site where an endorsement by the charity of the sponsor's product appears constitutes an advertisement. The Treasury Department is expected to elaborate further on the tax implications of Internet activities in another pending injury concerning that precise matter.

 

Fairness Doctrine

The Fairness Doctrine was eliminated by the FCC in 1987 on the basis that it is no longer in the public interest. The Commission's action was upheld in court challenges. (See Syracuse Peace Council v. FCC, 867 F.2d 654 (D.C. Cir. 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 1019 (1990).)

Congress continues to consider enacting the Fairness Doctrine into law. Sound journalism, which seeks to present fairly all sides of an issue, will assist in meeting the requirements of the Fairness Doctrine if it is reinstated.

 

Personal Attack and Political Editorial Rules

The Personal Attack Rule had provided that when an attack was made on the honesty, character, integrity, or like personal qualities of an identified person or group during the presentation of a controversial issue of public importance, the licensee must notify that person or group of the attack within one week, supply a script or tape of the attack, and offer a reasonable opportunity for response. The Political Editorial Rule had a similar structure, affording political candidates notice of and an opportunity to respond to editorials opposing them or endorsing another candidate. On October 11, 2000, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued a writ of mandamus ordering the "Commission immediately to repeal the personal attack and political editorial rules." By order adopted and released on October 26, 2000, the Commission repealed its personal attack and political editorial rules for both broadcast stations (47 C.F.R. Sections 73.1920 & 73.1930) and cable systems (47 C.F.R. Section 76.209(b), (c) & (d)), thus concluding a proceeding first initiated in 1983.

 

Political Broadcast Requirements

Licensees are required under the Communications Act (47 U.S.C. section 315) and FCC regulations (47 C.F.R. section 73.1940) to afford equal access to legally qualified candidates for a particular public office, once one such candidate has made a "use" of the station. Under the FCC's current definition of "use," any positive appearance of voice (or picture) triggers the "equal opportunities" requirement. There are four statutory exemptions from this requirement: bona fide newscasts; bona fide news interviews; bona fide news documentaries; and on-the-spot coverage of bona fide news events (including conventions and debates). If the program supplier's program is likely to be a "use" of the station by a candidate, and does not fall within one of the exceptions, the program supplier will want to discuss with the station how the broadcaster wants to accommodate its equal opportunity obligations triggered by the program.

In 2000, Congress amended the Communications Act to exempt public broadcast stations from the obligations to provide "reasonable access" to candidates for federal office (47 U.S.C. Section 312(a)(7)). As a result, public broadcast stations, unlike their commercial counterparts, have no legal obligation to provide airtime to legally qualified candidates for federal elective office. Nonetheless, if particular programming constitutes a non-exempt "use" for purposes of the "equal opportunities" obligation, public broadcast stations carrying the program would be subject to the "equal opportunities" requirements.

 

Indecency and Obscenity

Obscene material is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Under federal statute (18 U.S.C. section 1464), the FCC does not permit it on the air. Obscenity has been defined by federal constitutional cases. (See Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973).) A three-part test is used: (1) an average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the material, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (2) the material must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or excretory conduct; and (3) the material, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. Id. at 24.

Indecent material is material which under the First Amendment the FCC must permit to be aired, because it is not obscene, but which the FCC can channel to certain times of the day to help assure that unsupervised children are not exposed to it. (See FCC v. Pacifica, 438 U.S. 726 (1978).) Until April, 1987, the FCC defined such material by reference to specific words. In a series of rulings in April, 1987, and since, the FCC has redefined "indecent" material more broadly to include "language or material that depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium, sexual or excretory activities or organs." Indecent material broadcast outside the time period set by the FCC, which is currently 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. (also called a "safe harbor") is subject to sanction.

On April 6, 2001, the FCC released a Policy Statement providing industry guidance on the FCC's decisions and enforcement policies relating to broadcast indecency. The Policy Statement attempts to clarify the FCC's definition of indecency. In order for the FCC to find material indecent, the material (1) must describe or depict sexual or excretory organs or activities; and (2) must be patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards for the broadcast medium. The "contemporary community standards" criterion is a national standard that considers the sensibilities of the "average broadcast viewer." In making an indecency assessment, the FCC looks at the full context in which the material appeared. For example, explicit language may not be considered patently offensive if it is included in the context of a bona fide newscast.

The Policy Statement also sites the three principal factors that the FCC considers when reviewing an indecency complaint: (1) the explicitness or graphic nature of the description or depiction of sexual or excretory organs or activities; (2) whether the material dwells on or repeats at length descriptions of sexual or excretory organs or activities; and (3) whether the material appears to pander or is used to titillate, or whether the material appears to have been presented for its shock value.

 

Identification of Recorded Material

FCC regulations at 47 C.F.R. section 73.1208 (1999) require a clear announcement at the beginning of a broadcast, identifying the broadcast as taped or recorded for any taped or recorded program material "in which time is of special significance" (e.g., fast-breaking news story), or by which an affirmative attempt is made to create the impression that it is occurring live. Recorded announcements of a public service, commercial, or promotional nature, however, need not be identified as recorded.

 

Fraud

It is a violation of the Federal Criminal Code (18 U.S.C. section 1343) to transmit any signals or sounds by wire, radio, or television for the purpose of executing any fraudulent scheme. The FCC is authorized to revoke a license for a violation of that Criminal Code section (47 U.S.C. section 312 (a)(6)).

 

Lotteries

Section 1304 of the Federal Criminal Code (18 U.S.C.) makes it a crime, punishable by fine and/or imprisonment, for any licensee of an AM, FM, or television broadcast station to broadcast any advertisement or information concerning any lottery, gift enterprise or similar scheme, or any list of prizes awarded from any such lottery, gift enterprise or scheme. The FCC has authority to revoke a license for violation of this provision (47 U.S.C. section 312 (a)(6)). However, in June 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 1304 may not be applied to advertisements of private casino gambling broadcast by a station in a state where such gambling is legal. Furthermore, as of May 1990, broadcasters are allowed to provide information about or advertise lotteries conducted by nonprofit organizations, governmental organizations and some commercial organizations under limited circumstances (47 C.F.R. section 73.1211 (1999)). There are some state laws which are more stringent than this new FCC rule, and care should be taken that programs do not offend state law provisions. The FCC defines a "lottery" as a game, contest or promotion which has these elements: a prize, chance, and consideration. Stations may also broadcast information about certain state lotteries (including the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico), certain Indian gaming information, or information about certain fishing contests. (18 U.S.C. Sections 1305 and 1307; 47 C.F.R. section 73.1211 (1999).) Even if a particular promotion constitutes a contest rather than a lottery, there are specific requirements regarding the disclosure of material terms. (See 47 C.F.R. section 73.1216 (1999).) Because of the complexity of the FCC's rules, it is advisable to consult counsel regarding the specific parameters of a proposed lottery contest or other promotion.

 

Broadcast Hoaxes

In 1992, the FCC adopted a rule to expressly prohibit the broadcast of hoaxes that cause substantial public harm. The new rule prohibits a licensee from knowingly broadcasting false information concerning a crime or catastrophe if it is foreseeable that broadcast of the information does, in fact, directly cause such harm. The rule arose out of several broadcast hoaxes which involved stories concerning an alleged murder and nuclear attack and resulted in public alarm and a diversion of public safety or law enforcement personnel. The FCC has stated that it will apply a presumption that fictional material accompanied by a disclaimer will not be the basis of a violation.

Use of Taped Conversations

Federal and state laws and FCC regulations contain restrictions on taping of conversations in person or use of such conversations for broadcast. In addition, states have laws which may be more stringent than federal requirements in this area. Program producers should check with an attorney to determine what state and local laws and regulations provide before taping interviews.

Recording Interstate and Intrastate Calls

Federal criminal law (18 U.S.C. sections 2510 and 2511) requires that only one party to a telephone conversation needs to give prior consent to a recording unless the recording is made for criminal, tortious, or injurious purposes. Even if the recording does not violate federal criminal law, however, recording without notice may be impermissible.

FCC tariffs and regulations (47 C.F.R. section 64.501 (1996)) provide that a telephone common carrier may not record an interstate telephone conversation unless the recording party (1) notifies the other party that he/she intends to record the conversation; (2) first obtains prior consent from all parties participating in the conversation; or (3) uses a beep-tone device which is designed to give notice to parties in the conversation that the conversation is being recorded.

Finally, a number of states have enacted more stringent "all party" consent laws for recording of telephone conversations. Familiarity with the laws regarding telephone recording is essential.

 

Broadcasting Telephone Calls

The FCC requires (47 C.F.R. section 73.1206 (1999)) that before recording a telephone conversation for broadcast, or broadcasting such a conversation simultaneously with its occurrence, a licensee must inform any party to the call of the licensee's intention to broadcast the conversation, unless the party to the conversation is aware, or may be presumed to be aware, that it is being or will be broadcast. This standard applies whether the telephone call is interstate or intrastate.

 

Face-to-Face Interviews

Federal criminal law (18 U.S.C. sections 2510 and 2511) requires that only one party to a conversation needs to give prior consent to the recording unless the recording is made for a "criminal," tortious, or injurious purpose. However, a number of states have more stringent laws. In addition, individuals recorded without proper consent may bring damage claims for invasion of privacy. Before recording without consent, the program producer should check with his/her own attorney about applicable laws.

Non-discrimination

Numerous federal, state and local statutes and regulations prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, religion, age, sex, national origin, or disability. Federal laws prohibiting discrimination include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. section 2000e), the Civil Rights Act of 1991 (42 U.S.C. section 1981 et seq.), the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. section 12101 et seq.), the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (29 U.S.C. section 206) and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975 (42 U.S.C. section 6101 et seq.). If a producer receives federal funding, additional non-discrimination laws may apply. These may include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. section 2000d), Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (20 U.S.C. section 1681), and Title V of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (29 U.S.C. sections 793 and 794). Some of these laws have been amended by Congress, and others have been recently interpreted in Supreme Court decisions. Contracts for program production issued by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and by National Public Radio typically require nondiscrimination in employment and affirmative action by the contracting individual or entity. In addition, the FCC imposes non-discrimination recruitment and outreach requirements on licensees.

On December 21, 2001, the FCC proposed new broadcast and cable equal employment opportunity ("EEO") rules to replace the rules that had been invalidated by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FCC's prior rules presented stations with two options for assuring equal employment opportunity. The Court found one of the two options to be unconstitutional and remanded the matter to the FCC for further consideration. In response, the FCC proposed adoption of the remaining, constitutional option. That option consists of a prohibition on discrimination and requirements that stations (1) recruit for full-time positions, (2) notify recruitment organizations of job vacancies when so requested by such organizations, and (3) engage in systematic outreach initiatives. The FCC has also proposed a number of recordkeeping and reporting requirements, including requiring broadcasters and cable entities to place an annual EEO report in their public file detailing recruitment outreach efforts.

Resource Materials

Federal Communications Commission

The following FCC publications are available through the FCC's Mass Media Bureau website (www.fcc.gov/mb) or the FCC's Enforcement Bureau website (www.fcc.gov/eb), or by sending a request to the FCC, Enforcement Bureau, 445 12th Street, SW, Washington, DC 20554:

  • The Public and Broadcasting Manual
  • Applicability of Sponsorship Identification Rules
  • Information Seekers Guide (listing of all materials available to the public from the FCC)
  • The FCC and Broadcasting
  • Mass Media Services
  • Call-In or "Open-Mike" Programs
  • Complaints About Broadcast Journalism
  • The FCC and Freedom of Speech
  • FCC Enforcement of Prohibition on Obscene and Indecent Broadcasts
  • Commission Policy Concerning the Noncommercial Nature of Educational Broadcasting Stations



Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office makes available a variety of circulars containing information about copyright. To obtain a listing of these publications, call the Copyright Office "Forms Hotline" at 202.707.9100 and request "Circular R-2" by leaving a recorded message, or write to the Copyright Office, Library of Congress, Washington, DC 20559. You may also call the Copyright Information Office at 202.707.3000 for more information about its publications, or visit its website: http://www.loc.gov/copyright.



National Association of Broadcasters

The NAB, 1771 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036, makes available for a small fee a series of books and pamphlets, including:

  • Synopsis of Libel Law and the Right of Privacy, by Bruce Sanford Lotteries and Contests: A Broadcaster's Handbook (3rd edition)