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Take Advantage of the Congressional Recess to Educate Your Lawmakers

Jim du Bois

Jim du Bois, President/CEO, Minnesota Broadcasters Association

Congress is in recess until September 7, and lawmakers are back in their districts. Now is the time to invite your members of Congress to your stations. Offer them the opportunity to appear on-air. They will appreciate the access to their constituents. Also spend time discussing critical industry issues with them and ask for their support. Use this link to log in to the Member Blog on the MBA website (password: MBAmember16) to access issues sheets, supporting data, and strategies for engaging with your lawmakers.

Please send us a brief recap of your meetings indicating which issues were discussed and any commitments or comments made by the member of Congress.

Thanks for your efforts!

Jim du Bois
President/CEO
Minnesota Broadcasters Association

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Media Headlines

CommLawCenter – Nationwide EAS Test Comes With a “To Do” List for Broadcasters and Other EAS Participants: Let’s start with the basics.  The FCC announced that the nationwide test will take place on Wednesday, September 28, 2016, at 2:20 pm Eastern Time, and that, if necessary, the secondary test date will be October 5, 2016.  The test will start when FEMA sends the alert message, which will be in both English and Spanish.  As we wrote last year, the alert will use a new nationwide test event code, NPT, and a new nationwide geographic zone code, 000000.

Inside Radio – Radios in more U.S. homes now than in the 1950s: Just how many radio receivers exist nowadays in the marketplace? The number should no doubt surprise even the most pessimistic of observers. According to the Consumer Technology Association, the reach of FM/AM radio into American homes is actually deeper today than when the music of Elvis or The Beatles were pouring out of the speakers.

Pew Research Center – 5 key takeaways about the State of the News Media in 2016: The State of the News Media in 2016 is uncertain, with daily newspapers looking shakier than ever, digital advertising and audiences continuing to grow, and TV news mostly seeing gains in revenue.

The FDA Tobacco Deeming Rules Are Here

By: Gregg P. Skall, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, LLP

The long awaited FDA regulations “deeming” e-cigarettes a tobacco product have, at last been issued and are to be published in the Federal Register today.  While they may have answered some questions, they also leave many unanswered.

The regulations “deem” e-cigarettes to be like tobacco and, therefore, subject to FDA regulation.  Electronic cigarettes are battery-operated products designed to deliver nicotine, flavor and other chemicals. They turn nicotine, which is considered to be highly addictive, and other chemicals into a vapor that is inhaled by the user.

Gregg Skall

Gregg P. Skall

In addition to e-cigarettes, the FDA has now extended its regulatory authority to cover all other products “deemed” tobacco, including vaporizers, vape pens, hookah pens, e-pipes, and all other Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems, or “ENDS.”  It will now regulate the manufacture, import, packaging, labeling, sale, distribution, and critical to broadcasters, the advertising and promotion, of ENDS.

The new rules prohibit the sale of ENDS to individuals under the age of 18 and require the display of a specific, graphic health warning on product packages and in advertisements.  Advertisement will be required to bear a new textual warning statements with specific black and white and border style requirements.

The rule provides that the warnings must accompany all advertising. The report specifically mentions most of the media, new and old, employed by broadcasters, including Internet Web pages, television, electronic mail, messaging by mobile telephone, smartphone, microblog, social media Web site, or other communication tool, including any other programs that allow for the sharing of audio, video, or photography files or promotions.  So in addition to traditional sales, the rule specifically targets your digital sales team as well.

Furthermore, the health warnings must occupy 20 percent of the area of any advertisement with a visual component and utilize at least a 12-point font in Helvetica or Arial.  It cannot be minimized, and must occupy “the greatest possible portion of the warning area set aside for the required text.” It must be in English, unless it appears in non-English language media, in which case it must appear in the primary language used for the medium’s nonsponsored content.

The FDA noted that it expects the broad range of advertising covered by the new graphic warning rules will create “additional complexities” that will require additional compliance information for a complete understanding. Given the time and resources it will take to achieve compliance, the proposed health warning rules will become effective 24 months after publication. Assuming publication in the Federal Register today, that would make them effective May 10, 2018.

The FDA devoted a separate section to banning the use of descriptors like Low, Light, and Mild, and Other Unauthorized Modified Risk Claims.

Finally, because the regulations prohibit sales to anyone under the age of 18, for the federal rules, broadcasters must be careful to screen any otherwise complaint ENDS advertising to be sure it would not be deemed to target anyone under the age of 18.

More to come as the rules become effective and the FDA issues further guidance.

This column is provided for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice pertaining to any specific factual situation. Legal decisions should be made only after proper consultation with a legal professional of your choosing.

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Access MN Radio: The Legacy of Wendell Anderson and the Minnesota Miracle

With the passing of former Minnesota Governor and US Senator Wendell Anderson, a look at his signature piece of legislation from 1971 called the “Minnesota Miracle” which led to Minnesota’s national reputation as a “state that works.” How did the fiscal policies of 1970s transform education in the state and what will be the legacy of Gov. Anderson and the “Minnesota Miracle”?

Access MN TV: The Legacy of Wendell Anderson and the “Minnesota Miracle” 

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