The FCC this week issued a Notice of Apparent Liability proposing a $233,000 fine to Cumulus Media for violations of the sponsorship identification rules. The fine illustrates not only how seriously the FCC takes its sponsorship identification rules (particularly in the context of political and issue advertising) but also the how aggressively the FCC can act for even the slightest violation of a consent decree involving a prior violation of its rules.
There are some hurdles ahead as the radio group seeks to restructure its $2.3 billion in debt.
At radio giant Cumulus Media, things have gone from bad to worse. A quick look at the stock price tells the tale. When former Chief Executive Lew Dickey exited in September 2015, the stock was already an anemic $5.45. On Friday, Cumulus shares closed at 52 cents.
Last week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau bragged it had fined Cumulus Media $540,000 for a violation at one of its New Hampshire radio stations where full sponsorship identification announcements were not made on issue ads. The commission said it is “the largest payment in FCC history for a single-station violation of the commission’s sponsorship identification laws.” There are several reasons why political advertisers, broadcasters and the FCC should worry about this development.
The syndicated show will partner with Cumulus Media’s stations in an attempt to boost its ratings during the November sweep. One element is a listener contest with a trip to Hollywood as the prize.