Media Bureau Ends COVID-Related Lowest Unit Charge Relief

Posted on May 30th, 2023 by

In 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the FCC issued a public notice announcing that broadcasters would be able to exclude free time that they provided to commercial advertisers when calculating the lowest unit charge amounts they could charge for political ads.  Many stations had done so to assist businesses during the pandemic and with recovery afterward.  The free time that could be excluded was conditioned upon it not being part of a commercial contract for paid time, or being bonus spots.

In a May 15, 2023 public notice, the FCC rescinded that relief, effective immediately. As a result, stations should now include on a going forward basis any free time that they provide to commercial advertisers when computing their lowest unit charge.