Q: I heard a spot recently promoting a generic type of product, i.e., not by brand name, and at the end it said, "A message from" and named the group promoting this product. Is this a legal sponsor I.D.?
A: No. FCC Rule Section 73.1212 requires that when a station broadcasts matter for which consideration is directly or indirectly paid or promised the station must announce, at the time of the broadcast that the matter is "sponsored," or "paid for," and "by whom,” or “on whose behalf the consideration was supplied..." The Rule provides an exception in the case of advertising commercial products or services. An announcement stating the sponsor's corporate or trade name or the name of the sponsor's product, when it is clear that the mention of the name of the product constitutes a sponsorship identification, is deemed sufficient.
VERIFYING SPONSOR I. D.
Q: How far does a station have to go to discover who the "real" sponsor of an issue advocacy spot is?
A: Every advertisement that runs on a station must fairly and fully disclose the entity that runs an ad on a station. Stations are not ordinarily required to investigate the identity of their sponsors. However, if the station is notified that a sponsor I.D. is not accurate, then the station has an obligation to investigate by contacting the sponsor and asking for verification that it is the source of the funds paying for the advertising, and that another entity is not supplying virtually all the funding. The station is required to change the sponsor I.D. only if it is presented with credible evidence that the sponsor I.D. is incorrect.
Q: We have a client who has seen "teaser" billboards, the ones that put up just a portion of the message over a period of time and then finally reveal who the advertiser is. May we broadcast that kind of campaign for his next set of spots on our station, without any indication of who the advertiser is until the end of the campaign?
A: No. The FCC's Rule regarding sponsor identification requires that the station broadcast a proper sponsor identification at the time it transmits any program matter for which the station has received consideration (goods, services, money, etc.). For a retailer, the mention of the retailer's trade name is sufficient to comply with the Rule when it is clear that it is a sponsorship identification. Each spot must contain the appropriate sponsorship identification, so a flight that progressively adds information about the advertiser, ultimately revealing the advertiser's identity, is not allowed.