No-Charge Advertising Guidance, As Explained By A Top D.C. Lawyer


The FCC on Wednesday (3/25) released a public notice that deals with the attempts of several broadcasters to support their advertisers, while at the same time filling advertising inventory holes that have been created by the cancellation of other advertising schedules.

Wilkinson Barker Knauer partner David Oxenford explains why the Media Bureau issued guidance on free advertisements, and why they need not be included in Lowest Unit Charge calculations.

“Broadcasters who we represented requested that they be permitted to schedule no-charge advertising for some of their clients where those spots were not part of negotiated advertising packages, without those spots affecting lowest unit charges in the political windows — likely to be opening in many states in the coming weeks,” he said. “The FCC agreed that free spots provided to merchants that are not part of an existing commercial contract or otherwise are not provided as a bonus tied to any contract would not affect lowest unit rates. This is a limited ruling for broadcasters to use to build up good will with advertisers, and to provide them with assistance in this time of crisis.”

As it is what Oxenford calls “a limited, nuanced ruling,” he recommends a representative from a broadcast media property contact their legal counsel to discuss the matter. That said, “it does provide broadcasters with the opportunity to be creative in helping support their advertisers in this most unusual time.”

The NAB joined WKB clients in petitioning the Commission on the matter.