Tag Archives: Issue 90

WPHM Revamps Lineup

Caleb Gordon, News and Program Director of Radio First’s WPHM-AM (Port Huron), has announced a new lineup for the talk radio station.  The station has added Hugh Hewitt, Bloomberg Radio and  Tom Sullivan to their lineup, plus has returned Dave Ramsey to Blue Water Area airwaves.

“We surveyed our listeners and found they wanted more news and talk programs on WPHM,” Gordon said. The new programming will take effect January 22 following the Paul Miller morning show.

The Hugh Hewitt Show is an interview heavy talk show about the biggest stories of the day. Author of five books, Hewitt continues to write widely on diverse topics from politics to religion to culture for magazines and newspapers across the United States. He is a frequent contributor on television’s most watched programs including CNN, Fox News, Nightline and Meet the Press. The Hugh Hewitt Show airs weekdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WPHM.

Amy Morris and Peter Barns anchor Bloomberg Radio’s Politics, Policy and Power show from their Washington, D.C. Bureau. Amy Morris, an Edward R. Murrow award winning radio journalist, discusses how decisions made in Washington and on Wall Street affect your daily life. She is joined by Peter Barns who was an anchor on the Fox Business Network and CNBC before joining Bloomberg. Politics, Policy and Power will air on WPHM from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Tom Sullivan Show is a caller-driven, topical talk show for the drive home. He’s well known for the near-decade he spent pulling double duty on TV and radio with FOX Business Channel and KFBK Radio in Sacramento, California. Sullivan has been the top-rated talk host in Sacramento since July 1988. Tom got his first taste of network radio as a regular fill-in for the most listened to talk show in the world, The Rush Limbaugh Program, for a number of years. The Tom Sullivan Show airs Weekday afternoons from 3 to 5 p.m.

Dennis Stuckey will continue to host his local sports talk show weekday evenings, which will move to 5 p.m. Stuckey also will continue coverage of local high school and SC4 sports, which will air on wphm.net and select games will also be on AM 1380. He will be followed by national sports talker Mark Malone at 7 p.m. Dave Ramsey returns to WPHM weeknights at 10 p.m., dishing out his common sense financial advice.

Radio First’s Caleb Gordon joined WPHM as News and Program Director in October. Gordon says the station will feature hourly updates from ABC, the Michigan News Network, Bloomberg Radio, and more local news reports throughout the day. “We will continue to air sports programming nights and weekends,” says Gordon, which includes play-by-play teams such as the Red Wings, Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Spartans. WPHM also streams live at www.wphm.net and on the station’s mobile application

A complete schedule of WPHM’s new programs and biographies of new personalities can be found at http://www.wphm.net/wphm-schedule

Julie Zoumbaris Named VP/GM at WNEM-TV

Julie Zoumbaris

Meredith Corporation has announced that Julie Zoumbaris has been named Vice President and General Manager of WNEM TV (Saginaw), effective Monday, January 22.

Zoumbaris replaces Al Blinke, who recently retired after a career in local broadcasting spanning more than 40-years.

“Julie was an instrumental member of the TV5 sales team for more than a decade,” said, Patrick McCreery, Meredith Local Media Group Executive Vice President of Operations. “She is an exceptional leader with a strong record of growing market share and increasing revenue. We are excited to welcome Julie back to the Meredith family.”

Most recently, Zoumbaris served as the Director of Sales for WRTV in Indianapolis where she led her team to the best Indy 500 sales in station history. Additionally, Zoumbaris worked as the Director of Sales at WISH-TV in Indianapolis, where she helped launch the market’s first live and local style show with more $1 million in TV and digital revenue.

In addition to her roles at WRTV and WISH-TV, Zoumbaris held sales management positions at WDTN-TV in Dayton, Ohio, and WEYI-TV in Flint. She worked in various sales roles for 14 years at WNEM.

Zoumbaris earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

2018 Update on Super Bowl Advertising and Promotions

Mitchell Stabbe
Mitchell Stabbe

By: Mitchell Stabbe, Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP via the Broadcast Law Blog

For many years, we have posted guidelines about engaging in or accepting advertising or promotions that directly or indirectly allude to the Super Bowl without a license from the NFL. We are at that time of year again, so here is an updated version of our prior posts.

The Super Bowl means big bucks. It is estimated that each of the three television networks that broadcast the Super Bowl pay the NFL in excess of $1 billion per year for the right to broadcast NFL games through 2022, including the right to broadcast the big game on a rotating basis once every three years. Of course, the game generates hundreds of millions of dollars for the networks from advertisers. In addition to the sums paid to have their commercials seen (approximately $5 million for a 30-second spot), many advertisers spend more than $1 million to produce each ad. In addition, the NFL receives hundreds of millions of dollars in income from licensing the use of the SUPER BOWL trademark and logo.

Not surprisingly, the NFL is extremely aggressive in protecting its golden goose from anything it views as unauthorized efforts to trade off the goodwill associated with the game. Accordingly, with the coin toss almost upon us, advertisers need to take special care before publishing ads or engaging in promotional activities that refer to the Super Bowl. Broadcasters and news publishers have greater latitude than other businesses, but still need to be wary of engaging in activities that the NFL may view as trademark or copyright infringement. (These risks also apply to the use of “Final Four” or “March Madness” in connection with the upcoming NCAA Basketball Tournament.)

Simply put, the NFL views any commercial activity that uses or refers to the Super Bowl to draw attention as a violation of its trademark rights. Many of the activities challenged by the league undoubtedly deserve a yellow flag. However, the NFL’s rule book defines trademark violations very broadly. If anyone were willing to throw the red flag to challenge the league’s position, a review from the booth might reverse some of those calls.

Advertising that Refers to the Super Bowl: Under trademark law, use of a third party’s trademark is considered to be permissible “nominative fair use” if the use does not suggest a relationship between the advertiser and the trademark owner and the trademarked goods or services cannot be readily identified without using the trademark. Nevertheless, the NFL objects to any unauthorized advertising that refers to the Super Bowl. For example, the use in advertising of taglines such as “Stock Up for the Super Bowl” for beer or snacks or “Get the Best View of the Super Bowl” for big-screen TVs has routinely led to the prompt issuance of cease-and-desist letters. The claim may be made directly against the advertiser, as well as against a broadcaster or other news organization that publishes the ad. As a result, many broadcasters should not accept advertising that specifically refers to the Super Bowl unless the advertiser first shows that it has NFL approval.

Other Marks: To overcome these problems, many advertisers now replace any reference to the “Super Bowl” with “The Big Game.” When advertisers commonly began using this tactic, NFL Properties tried to register THE BIG GAME as a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. (The NFL also has federal trademark protection for “Super Sunday,” “Gameday,” “Back to Football,” “1st and GOAL” and over a hundred other marks.) Over twenty different parties threatened to oppose the application for THE BIG GAME and the NFL voluntarily abandoned the application. We are not aware of any reported claims by the NFL against advertisers based upon the use of “The Big Game.”

Following are some examples of other activities that create a significant risk of an objection by the NFL:

“Super Bowl” Events or Parties: A bar or restaurant that has a public performance license to show television programs on their premises has the right to show the Super Bowl broadcast to its patrons, but if it uses the words “Super Bowl” in its advertising to attract customers, the league will object. Similarly, a company should not be listed as the sponsor of a “Super Bowl” event or party. And, under copyright law, a fee should not be charged to watch the game.

Famously, in 2007, the NFL sent a cease and desist letter to an Indiana church group that had used “Super Bowl” to describe a viewing party for the game and would charge $3.00 per person to cover the cost of snacks. The NFL, however, will not object to a church viewing party for the Super Bowl if it is held in the church’s usual place of worship and no fee is charged for attending. Churches can, however, request donations to help cover the cost of the event. In addition, the League will not object to religious organizations that refer to their events as a Super Bowl party, provided that no NFL logos are used.

Sweepstakes or Giveaways (Naming or Prizes): Any sweepstakes or giveaway that incorporates “Super Bowl” in its name or as a prominent feature of its advertising should be avoided. Further, the NFL takes the position that game tickets cannot be offered as a prize or award. In most situations, the “first sale” doctrine under trademark law provides that the buyer of goods may do whatever it wants with its purchase, including reselling it or giving it away. Faced with this argument some years ago, the NFL (as well as the other sports leagues) now includes language on the back of tickets, prohibiting their use as part of a sweepstakes, giveaway or other promotion. While some might argue that the purchaser of a ticket will not even see this language until after the purchase is completed and therefore the terms have not been agreed to and are not binding, this argument has not precluded sports leagues from bringing claims when broadcasters have tried to do unauthorized giveaways with tickets bought on the open market. Tickets to an event are legally considered a license to attend the event, rather than a good that is sold, and therefore entry can be conditioned on any basis that does not violate public policy. Given the actions we have seen taken by sports leagues in the past, we would caution against contests involving ticket giveaways unless authorized by the NFL.

Names of Programs: Even if a broadcaster is not with the network that carries the Super Bowl (this year, NBC), it may want to produce a television program about the game. In years past, the NFL has repeatedly challenged local broadcasters that include the name of a team in a weekly program dedicated to discussions about the team. Thus, it would not be surprising if the NFL similarly objected to naming a pre-Super Bowl television program about the game if it incorporated “Super Bowl” in the title. (As discussed above, there is a strong argument that such naming constitutes permissible “nominative fair use.”)

Special Advertising: Newspapers and online news providers frequently have a special “section” that is devoted to coverage of the Super Bowl. The organization should be able to solicit advertising to accompany its stories, just as it does for any of its news reporting. It would be risky, however, to have an advertiser “sponsor” the coverage, particularly if “Super Bowl” is part of the name of the section.

Disclaimers: A disclaimer such as, “Not an Official Sponsor of the Super Bowl” or “This Advertisement (or Event) Has Not Been Licensed or Authorized by the NFL” will not ward off a cease-and-desist letter. Moreover, in the event of litigation, it is unlikely to provide a defense to a claim of infringement. And, even if the defense were ultimately successful, the defendant would still incur significant attorneys’ fees and other costs of litigation.

Masked Advertisements: A broadcaster who accepts an advertisement that wishes good luck to the players or congratulates the winning team, without expressly promoting the business’s goods or services, still runs a substantial risk. In recent years, some businesses that have run “congratulatory” pieces in honor of some achievement by an individual athlete have been sued. In one case, a jury rejected the defense that the business was engaged in protected non-commercial speech and awarded $8.9 million in damages. Although this verdict was based on a violation of the athlete’s right of publicity, it does not take much imagination to see a similar claim being made by a sports league based on its trademark rights.

Risk Analysis: The policy underlying protection of trademarks is to protect consumers against consumer confusion. That said, is there a meaningful difference between, for example, an ad that invites consumers to “Stock up for the Super Bowl” as opposed to one that says, “Stock up for the Big Game”? Do they convey different messages? Is one more likely than the other to confuse consumers into believing that the product being advertised is sponsored by, endorsed by, or otherwise affiliated with the NFL? Probably not.

So, why is the NFL so aggressive? The answer almost certainly lies in the fact that “official sponsors” of the Super Bowl and other trademark licensees would not be willing to pony up the huge sums they pay if a competitor could freely use the “Super Bowl” trademark or the game to promote itself without also paying a license fee. This risk is particularly high for those who have been promised exclusivity in a given category and the right to promote themselves as “The Official ——– of the Super Bowl.” Thus, the NFL has a huge incentive to prevent any advertising that may cross the line. Aggressive enforcement also has a significant deterrent effect on businesses who might be tempted to engage in Super Bowl-related advertising or promotions.

News organizations, however, have the right to use “Super Bowl” or other NFL marks in reporting on the game. (If they could not, viewers, listeners or readers would find themselves very confused!) That said, a news organization that wants press credentials for the game faces an additional risk if it accepts unauthorized Super Bowl-related advertising. Although news organizations are not required to have permission to report on an event, as a practical matter, their ability to do so from inside the stadium will be hampered by a refusal by the NFL to issue press credentials. (And, yes, we have seen professional sports leagues make such a threat.)

For these reasons, for most broadcasters and other news organizations, the better course is to be aware of and avoid any possible pitfalls, rather than run the risk of litigation.

FCC Chairman Looks to Eliminate Paper Filing Requirements

According to a report in InsideRadio, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai has scheduled a vote this month on scaling back paper filing requirements for broadcasters. The FCC is proposing that both commercial and noncommercial radio and television stations no longer be required to file an array of documents including those that relate to ownership or control of a station, such as time brokerage and joint sales agreements—and in the case of TV stations any network affiliation agreements. “While paper filings may have previously been the most efficient mechanism for ensuring that the Commission and the public had ready access to these materials, we believe that is no longer the case,” stated Pai. If approved, the proposal would launch a formal rulemaking to scale back the station filing demands.

FCC Announces New Email Address to Contact Enforcement Bureau

On January 9, the FCC Enforcement Bureau announced, that in order to streamline the operation of the Enforcement Bureau’s Field Offices, the Bureau’s Office of the Field Director has established a new email address, [email protected], for the public to use when responding to an enforcement action originating from one of the Bureau’s Field Offices.

New enforcement actions will instruct recipients to send responses to [email protected] rather than to email addresses that are associated
with the Bureau’s three Regions.

For purposes of this Public Notice, an “enforcement action” is any Commission or Bureau action identified by a case number beginning with “EB-FIELD.” For further information, please contact [email protected].

Gov. Snyder Announces Special Election Dates to Fill 68th State House District

Gov. Rick Snyder has announced special election dates to fill the 68th District state House of Representatives seat vacated by new Lansing Mayor Andy Schor.

A special primary election to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term will be held on Aug. 7, 2018. The general election will be held on Nov. 6, 2018. These dates coincide with regularly scheduled elections.

For more information and other relevant dates for this special election, read the governor’s letter filed with the Secretary of State’s office.

Learn more about elections in Michigan at www.michigan.gov/elections.

Michigan Supreme Court Considers Attorney Advertising Rule Changes

According to a report in Gongwer, the Michigan Supreme Court is considering changes to court rules on attorney advertising to require that the name of an attorney providing the services be identified in the ad. The court released two possible alternatives to the current rule. The proposed changes will also be the subject of a public hearing, with a hearing date yet to be announced. The two proposed changes require identification of the lawyer advertising the services.

The first proposed change addresses attorney advertisement done under a phone number, web address, “image or icon” and website advertising requires the names of the lawyers providing the services. In the second alternative proposal “any communication,” which could potentially include television and radio ads, will need the address and name of at least one lawyer responsible for the content.

NWS Detroit Office Begins Winter Squall Warnings Through EAS

The National Weather Service’s Detroit office has begun issuing Snow Squall Warnings when necessary.

As an EAS event, this will only affect broadcasters who monitor the National Weather Service Radio originating from the Detroit office.  This includes stations in the EAS Southeast, East Central and Lenawee/Washtenaw regions.  NWS considers this to be a life threatening issue.

The EAS code that will be used is SVS. This will come from the NOAA Weather Radio SAME.  The NWS has never used an EAS code SVS up until now.  The text will have “Bulletin – EAS Activation Requested.”

As background, the Snow Squall Warning will be issued based on the following:

  1. Visibility 1/4 mile or less for 15 minutes or more.
  2. Sub-freezing ambient road temperatures (or plunging temperatures that would produce a flash freeze).
  3. Gusty winds.
  4. Forecaster judgement of impact, i.e. clear evidence that a snow squall could lead to dangerous conditions and a possible multi-car accident (pileup) when one of the above criterion isn’t quite met.

Anyone with questions regarding the NWS warnings should contact  Rich Pollman at (248) 625-3309 x726.

MAB State of the State Broadcast & On-Site Information

On January 23, 2018 at 7 p.m., Governor Rick Snyder will deliver his final State of the State address to Michigan citizens. In response to a survey of our TV members, the MAB will once again up-link the State of the State address live via satellite for all stations to use.

The feed will be a clean (unanchored) feed, in HD and closed-captioned.  Please be aware that the Governor may not begin speaking right at 7 p.m.  Stations should be prepared to fill (with a live anchor) until the Governor begins speaking.

Stations should also be prepared for the an uncertain end time.  We have booked satellite time until 8:30 p.m.  Should we get any further guidance as to the length of the Governor’s address, we will post at MichMAB.com 

(MABP/ Public Television) stations will receive a seperate HD feed anchored by veteran State Capitol reporter Tim Skubick.   MPRN/Public Radio affiliates can receive a live anchored broadcast by Capitol Correspondent Rick Pluta and WDET’s Laura Weber Davis.)

We encourage all radio and television stations to carry this program live on their main broadcast channel and/or digital channels. It’s important that we show State government the value of broadcasting.

Airing the State of the State also goes a long way toward helping to influence lawmakers on the value of supporting a strong Michigan broadcast media. The State of Michigan is one of the largest sponsors of public education programming, a major funding source of your association. We hope you will make the address as well as the Democratic response available.

Central Michigan University Television (WCMU-TV) has generously offered to once again uplink the address for MAB with their mobile uplink/production truck. The address will be on Galaxy 17 at 91 degrees west. Detailed satellite information is available here.

We will pre-feed the Democratic Response in two test periods prior to the live address: 4 to 4:30 p.m. and again 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.; and again 90 seconds following the end of the Governor’s address.

And, after many requests last year, we are happy to provide code to embed the State of the State broadcast on your websites (radio and television), courtesy of WKAR-TV.  The embedded broadcast will be closed-captioned and feature the Michigan public television broadcast hosted by Tim Skubick.  Embed code information for your website is available here.

RADIO:  Radio stations are also encouraged to air the address.  The MAB will provide an Internet feed with audio of the Tim Skubick-hosted broadcast.  The Skubick-hosted broadcast is scheduled from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The Internet feed will be available on the homepage of the MAB station.  Stations will find an embedded audio player on the MAB website, plus URL information for those who wish to use their own player.  Radio stations may also pull the same audio off-air from their local public television station.

Please complete this survey for us as soon as possible regarding your State of the State plans:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RLZV869


The deadline for applying for press credentials was January 16.  Be aware the the Capitol Building will have increased security. Anyone entering the Capitol will be required to have special pre-approved credentials, including news media. You may not get in if you just show up. For those who have requested press credentials, you will need a photo ID to pick up credentials at the north entrance to the Capitol; a press pass will not do.


Michigan State Capitol Construction and “The Big Hole”

ON-SITE INFORMATION: It is important to note that due to State Capitol construction, parking on the streets surrounding the Capitol will not be available this year. Stations should be prepared to park vehicles, as available, on nearby streets.

Video/audio feeds from the House Floor will not be available as they’ve been in the past (again, due to Capitol construction). Stations should be prepared to use the MAB clean feed of the Governor’s address.

For more information on the feeds, see the MAB website or contact Dan Kelley at 517-484-7444.

Free Jacobs Media Webinar on January 25

Fred Jacobs, Paul Jacobs, Seth Resler and Bob Kernen of Jacobs Media Strategies have returned from CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas and are offering a free webinar for radio titled “The 10 Things We Learned At CES (That Impact Radio).”

Presented in partnership with Inside Radio, Jacobs Media and jācapps have put together a 30-minute webinar that will present the latest and greatest at CES, with a focus on smart speakers, connected cars and new audio applications and gadgetry. The webinar will connect the dots to help the radio industry better understand how technology is changing our lives, our careers, and our business models.

The webinar will be presented Thursday, January 25 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time.  To register, click here.