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Friday, October 17, 2008
FCC as Race Car Sponsor?

Today's issue of Multichannel News reported that the Federal Communications Commission has decided to follow the lead of the U.S. Postal Service and become a sponsor of a team, in this case NASCAR driver David Gilliland, who agreed to use his No. 38 to display an advertisement trumpeting the conversion of the television signal from the sixty plus year old analog standard to digital. Gilliland, ranked 27th in the standings, recorded one top-5 and two top-10 finishes, with no speedway victories in 2008. He will receive $350,000 for the commission.

While I'm not criticizing the need the inform the public on the DTV conversion, one wonders about the implications of such a sponsorship. Since NASCAR Sprint Cup events are televised, their content, if you will, comes under the FCC's jurisdiction. Imagine the (admittedly) unlikely but interesting scenarios: Say that Gilliland's car gets bumped by another car, is forced off the track and the driver storms out screaming and cursing at the other driver. The words are picked up and violate the FCC's indecency policies. Wouldn't that be embarrassing for the FCC to impose fines on broadcasters because of actions by a driver which it sponsored? Or, what if Gilliland or one of his investors wishes to purchase a broadcast property and obtain a license from that same commission? Would they include the FCC as a reference?

Yes, this is potential tempest in a teapot. But I do get a bit antsy when administrative agencies get involved in commercial activities. Imagine the potential. How about naming rights such as the SEC Golf Cup or the EPA Clay Court Championship? Maybe it would be better if the National Association of Broadcasters or some other trade association sponsor the ad?


How about the Fannie Mae Racing Team or the ATP Tour brought to you by Freddie Mac?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/18/2008 8:31 AM  

The FCC hasn't issued any Notices of Apparent Liability for indecency recently. That would be surprising since this is an election year (and I was part of the crew that got screwed by the FCC witchhunt in early 2004), but luckily FOX had the balls that Clear Channel and Viacom didn't have and is challenging the FCC over its capricious and arbitrary fining system. Until the Supreme Court hears FOX vs. FCC, I don't anticipate there being any NALs issued.

Anonymous Draft King -- 10/20/2008 1:32 PM  

slow news day is it?

Anonymous Anonymous -- 10/30/2008 6:38 AM  

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