Industry News

Townsquare to Pay $500k to FCC in Sponsorship ID Violation Consent Decree

Townsquare Media enters into a Consent Decree to resolve the FCC’s investigation into “willful and repeated violations of sections 317(a) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, and 73.1212(a) of the Commission’s rules, relating to on-air sponsorship identification announcements.” The FCC states, “Townsquare agrees, among other things, to implement a comprehensive plan to ensure its future compliance with its sponsorship identification and online political file obligations, submit annualim compliance reports to the Bureau through the remainder of the current license terms of the two stations, and pay a Civil Penalty to the United States Treasury in the total amount of $500,000.” The violations in question center on a program that aired on Townsquare’s news/talk outlets KIDO-AM, Boise and KLIX-AM, Idaho Falls from October 2021 through March 2023 in which they “broadcast a one-hour episode of, and 30-second advertisements promoting, the Program. The format of each episode nominally resembled a news interview/public affairs program produced and presented by the Stations. In fact, however, all episodes of the Program were paid political presentations. Townsquare was paid to broadcast episodes of the Program and related advertisements initially by and on behalf of the Idaho Republican Party, and later by Tom Luna on behalf of a company doing business as Tom Luna and Associates. The hosts of each episode (Tom Luna and Victor Miller, chairman of the Ada County (Idaho) Republican Party) were solely responsible for producing the Program, including selecting guests and determining program content. Neither station provided any on-air Sponsorship ID announcements for the vast majority of the episodes or promotional advertisements that they aired revealing to listeners the true nature of the broadcasts and the identity of those who paid for them. In addition, multiple episodes of the Program contained appearances that constituted uses by legally qualified candidates for public office and communicated messages relating to political matters of national importance. Neither station uploaded records of any such candidate uses or messages to their respective online political files.”