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FTC Issues New Guidelines for Radio and Podcast Ads

The updated FTC guidelines encompass an expanded definition of endorsements, now including fake reviews, virtual influencers, and social media tags within its regulatory framework.

Maddy Troy

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The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued updated guidelines on endorsement ads, specifically addressing radio personalities and podcasters. These revisions, released on Thursday, mark the first changes to the FTC’s Enforcement Guide since 2009, following a three-year process.

The updated FTC guidelines encompass an expanded definition of endorsements, now including fake reviews, virtual influencers, and social media tags within its regulatory framework. The guidelines also provide further clarity on what constitutes “clear and conspicuous” disclosures. It warns that built-in disclosure features on platforms may not meet the FTC’s requirements.

To ensure clear disclosures, the FTC emphasizes that audio ads on radio and in podcasts should be delivered in a manner that allows ordinary consumers to easily hear and understand them.

Unlike a prescriptive rulebook, the FTC does not adopt a strict “do this” and “don’t do this” approach. Instead, it offers examples of endorsement ads in real-world scenarios and determines whether they would be considered deceptive or not, acknowledging that the interpretation of deceptive ads lies with the regulator.

One example provided by the FTC involves a radio personality endorsing a coffee machine. If the personality’s comments suggest regular use of the product when they have only used it during an advertiser’s demonstration, it would be deemed deceptive. The FTC modified the example to clarify that the radio personality speaks during a commercial break, removing references to owning the coffee maker.

Regarding podcasters, the FTC states that if a host begins an episode by clearly reading a commercial, there may be no need for a disclosure since listeners would likely assume compensation was involved, even without an explicit statement identifying the advertiser as a sponsor.

“The issue for us is whether the disclosure is easily noticeable, easily understandable, and hard to miss by ordinary consumers,” the FTC says.

In addition to the guidelines, the FTC has also updated its FAQ section, addressing frequently asked questions about endorsements and material connections. The new version includes 40 additional questions and updates numerous other answers.

Audio disclosures are commonly used by radio personalities and podcasters. The FTC suggests that saying “XYZ company asked me to try their product” might suffice if the context makes it clear that the endorser received the product for free and did not receive any other compensation.

On social media, endorsers often use the “#ad” hashtag to indicate paid endorsements. The FTC clarifies that there is no rule regarding the placement of the hashtag, but it emphasizes that the “#endorsement” hashtag alone is inadequate as it does not convey that money changed hands.

The FTC states that the rules apply uniformly across media channels, whether traditional or online. The key factor is whether the audience understands the relationship between the reviewer and the company being endorsed. If the relationship is clear, a disclosure may not be necessary.

The FTC acknowledges that its rules may seem ambiguous, but it asserts that they are not overly complex, and legal expertise is not required to draft appropriate disclosures. Notably, the FTC clarifies that it does not have jurisdiction over political advertisements.

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Media Business

Curtis LeGeyt: NAB ‘Depend on AM’ Radio Campaign ‘Played Crucial Role’ in Support for Congressional Bill

“We are making significant progress, but our work is far from over.”

Barrett News Media

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A photo of Curtis LeGeyt
(Photo: Jay Mallin NAB)

The AM Radio for Every Vehicle Act continues to wait to be voted on by both houses of Congress. NAB President/CEO Curtis LeGeyt believes an initiative from the organization played a paramount role in garnering support for the legislation.

In a story authored by the executive for Radio Ink, he made the case that the “Depend on AM” campaign released by the organization was pivotal for Congressional support for the industry.

“The NAB’s Depend on AM campaign has played a crucial role in rallying this support. We’ve emphasized the importance of AM radio not just as a cultural, news and sports hub, but also as the resilient lifeline during emergencies, offering unmatched reach and reliability,” LeGeyt wrote. “This legislation ensures that AM radio remains accessible to all Americans, especially during public safety crises. We are making significant progress, but our work is far from over.”

Curtis LeGeyt claimed more than 250 members of the House of Representatives and 62 Senators have backed the bill that would require automakers to include AM radios in new and electric vehicle models or require manufacturers to inform customers the new model was not equipped with the band.

The NAB has been a vocal proponent of the bill’s passage, with LeGeyt testifying in front of Congress in support of the legislation.

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Media Business

Local News Becoming Less Prevalent on Radio, New RTDNA Study Shows

68.4% of locally-owned operations air local news updates, while 54.1% of non-locally owned outlets do the same.

Barrett News Media

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RTDNA logo

Local news has been a focal point for radio stations for decades. But that may be fading away, a new RTDNA study shows.

65% of commercial stations still air local news in 2024, down slightly from 66.2% in 2023. Non-commercial stations have dropped 12% points in the past two years, down to just 60.7% airing local news.

However, the disconnect appears to come from locally owned stations versus non-locally owned. 68.4% of locally-owned operations air local news updates, while 54.1% of non-locally owned outlets do the same.

Not only are there drops in the number of stations broadcasting local news, but the airtime those updates occupy has also shrunk, according to the RTDNA study.

“The biggest drop in average minutes came in large markets, suggesting that fewer all news or news/talk stations there filled out the Survey this year,” the study states. “Medium markets are down a bit; small markets dropped an average of over 20 minutes per weekday.”

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Media Business

YouTube Largest Podcast Discovery Platform By Wide Margin, Westwood One Study Shows

Not only is the Google-owned video platform the most used among podcast newcomers, but it also holds that distinction for heavy podcast consumers and longtime podcast listeners.

Barrett News Media

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A photo of the YouTube logo displayed on a phone

In the span of three years, YouTube has gone from the third most popular podcast discovery platform to the top spot, a Westwood One study suggests.

In a study of more than 600 weekly podcast listeners, 31% say YouTube is the most utilized podcast listening platform. 21% say they use Spotify most frequently, while 12% claimed Apple Podcasts was their go-to destination.

Not only is the Google-owned video platform the most used among podcast newcomers, but it also holds that distinction for heavy podcast consumers and longtime podcast listeners.

YouTube’s podcast listening profile is slightly more male-dominated and also younger than the typical Apple Podcasts audience, according to the results from Westwood One Audio Active Group.

Naturally, the majority of Apple and Spotify users utilize smartphones to access their favorite podcasts, while 38% of YouTube’s audience uses computers and televisions for their favorite shows.

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