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Sponsorship ID Omissions Cost Townsquare $500,000

Company agrees to an FCC consent decree in case involving a weekly political program

Townsquare Media will pay a $500,000 penalty under a consent decree agreement with the FCC Media Bureau, for violating the FCC’s rules for sponsorship identification and online political files.

The case arose from broadcasts of a weekly program called “Red Wave Radio,” later changed to “Keep Idaho Red,” which aired on two Idaho AM stations, KLIX in Twin Falls and KIDO in Nampa, over a year and a half starting in late 2021.

The FCC said the format of each one-hour episode resembled a news interview/public affairs program produced by the stations but that in fact all were paid political presentations. The program and related ads for it were paid for by the Idaho Republican Party and later by a local Republican official who co-hosted the show.

“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,” the Media Bureau wrote in the consent decree.

“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.”

Townsquare has agreed to pay the $500,000 penalty in quarterly installments of $30,000. The broadcast company also agreed to implement a compliance plan and submit annual compliance reports through the completion of the license terms for the two stations. [Read the text of the decree.]

[Read more Radio World coverage of the FCC.]