Salem agrees to pay FCC fine of $50,000 over “live” programming

Salem Media Group, the country’s fifth-largest owner of radio stations, has agreed to pay a $50,000 civil penalty after one of its stations violated federal requirements over pre-recorded programming.

In an order released this week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it received a complaint in August 2017 that Salem’s Los Angeles station KRLA (870 AM) was promoting its medical advice call-in show “HealthLine Live” as a live broadcast when in fact the show was pre-recorded.

Three months later, agents from the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau contacted KRLA’s licensee, a Salem subsidiary called New Inspiration, inquiring about the program. A letter of response from New Inspiration admitted the show was taped, according to the order.

The FCC’s investigation found the show was syndicated to other Salem-owned stations who also promoted the broadcast as live when it was actually pre-recorded.

FCC officials took issue with the practice, the show’s name and the on-air host’s apparent practice of encouraging listeners to “call in” to a show, leading audience members to think the show was happening in tandem with the broadcast.

Federal regulations require licensed broadcasters like radio and television stations to make an announcement that a show is pre-recorded when viewers or listeners might infer a show being broadcast is live.

As part of the settlement, the FCC says Salem will pay a $50,000 civil fine and must develop a plan to comply with its broadcast requirements within 60 calendar days.

Salem Media Group, based in Southern California, operates more than 115 radio stations across the country. In addition to the broadcast properties, it programs a religious talk channel on SiriusXM and runs several conservative news and opinion websites, including RedState, Hot Air, Townhall.com and Twitchy.