The Cheat Sheet: The Politics of Radio

cheat-sheet-logo2by Flip Michaels

Seven new politicals, ten last minute tag revisions, four rotation schedules, twelve make-goods on a sold out log....

Did you survive? (Check your pulse!) Was there ever a time when our politicians had competent campaigns? Do you think Taft had any last minute co-op requests?

Post-Political Policy: Rules, rules, and more rules. It has been a general assumption that the Federal Communications Commission requires us to keep all political program scripts, air checks, traffic instructions, and even reporter notes from our beloved political season. But, with only two minor exceptions, there is no FCC requirement to keep scripts or tapes.

1. Three states (New Jersey, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) do have laws that require broadcasters to keep all recordings of program material for relatively brief periods, especially if they want to take advantage of state statutes which "shield" that material from all subpoenas. (The constitutionality of these laws have never been tested in court.)

2. All stations must keep and permit public inspection of a "complete and orderly" political file. This includes each request for broadcast time made by or on behalf of a candidate for a period of two years. Do you handle political orders? Then this means you!

Co-op Common Sense: Since we're on the subject of saving, are there any rules concerning co-op tape and script procedures? No. The only requirement is common sense (excluding special agency requests):

1. Save all tapes six to twelve months.

2. Keep a separate co-op file, holding all co-op accounts with each of their scripts (since day one).

3. Include traffic instructions in your co-op file. You never know when you might have to prove spot BF-123 ran, not spot AS-321.

4. Keep a master working record, AND INITIAL EVERYTHING!

PLLLEEEASSSEE...handle with great care. One big mistake means a major loss of money, and you'll end up being the Chevy Chase of radio.

Next month we dig a little deeper into the music copyright infringement area and discuss how it applies to concert spots and promos promoting appearances by performers.

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