Radio Still Wants to Disclose Paid Programming, Just Not Right Now

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Some major radio companies have asked the FCC to waive to rules requiring them to identify the sponsor of paid programming at the time they play it, The New York Times reports,

They'd rather provide that information at other times, in "an initial, robust, listener education program" and "daily announcements during the most-listened-to dayparts," and in an additional place: on the web.

The request, as the Times' Ben Sisario points out, is "raising fresh concerns about one of the music industry's most enduring scandals -- payola." But the industry says the request only has listeners at heart. In its waiver request, it explains why changing the rules would help radio fans get fuller disclosure:

Whereas now the listener is only privy to the name of the sponsor and the programming that is sponsored, under the waiver the listener would also have access to a list of the applicable artists and songs the station played, and/or sports teams the station featured that are affiliated with sponsors, and the type of consideration exchanged.

The risk, which seems like a big one, is that people who hear paid programming won't get any disclosure at all unless they also happen to catch one of those new disclosures at another time, or -- even less likely -- go online to look. So in practice, more disclosure might function a lot like less.

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