House Protects Broadcast Pot Spots

Gummy edibles and weed on an off white backbround.
(Image credit: Jamie Grill via Getty Images)

Broadcasters are praising the House of Representatives for telling the FCC to "Keep off the grass"... advertising, that is.

The House Wednesday (July 20) passed the 2023 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill, which prevents the FCC from taking any actions against broadcasters who air cannabis advertising if it is not against the law in the state or jurisdiction in which the station is licensed.

"Broadcasters have been looking for such protections, arguing that without them they cannot air cannabis ads even where the product is legal, which is in most states.

Also: House Committee to Broadcasters: Roll Your Own Pot Spots

Cable and streaming services, with essentially no FCC licenses at risk, can and do air cannabis ads.

State broadcast associations have been pushing for the right to air ads for a legal product in their states. The New York State Broadcasters Association has pointed out that stations currently run the risk of losing their license -- a risk the bill is meant to remove -- for airing any cannabis ads since the substance remains illegal under federal law.

The National Association of Broadcasters has also pushed for a more level playing field with cable and online.

"For too long, local broadcasters have been stuck in a regulatory purgatory because of conflicting federal and state cannabis laws," said NAB spokesman Alex Siciliano. "Today’s passage marks an important step towards allowing broadcasters to receive equal treatment for cannabis advertising that many other forms of media have enjoyed for years. While we are pleased to see the House act, broadcasters will continue to work with policymakers for a permanent resolution to this competitive disparity to the benefit of consumers.” ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.