Halloween and Radio Hoaxes

A caution on October 31 broadcasts.

2018 marks 80 years since the Orson Welles production of the War of the Worlds, a radio drama that envisioned America under attack by Martians. The panic that ensued generations ago prompted changes in rules governing radio broadcasts.

The most famous change was the FCC rule against airing hoaxes. Section 73.1217 of the Communications Act bans programs that either are false or where it is foreseeable that the broadcast will cause harm, either through consuming the resources of first responders or potentially causing property damage or bodily harm.

Stations risk fines for knowingly broadcasting hoaxes. Tips for staying in regulatory compliance are available in NFCB’s Solution Center, a resource for member stations. If your station is not a member, you can join today.

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