Forums » Friday Polls

Friday Poll: Who Owns the Spot?

    • 1262 posts
    December 17, 2009 11:57 PM PST
    Earlier this week RSC member Patrick Cleary, of Ferndale, CA, raised an interesting question: Who owns the spot -- the client for whom it was produced or the station that produced it? Patrick's post has sparked a lively discussion (here's the link:, and we decided we'd like to continue it by making it this Friday's poll topic. Please share your thoughts below. Thank you!

    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at February 7, 2019 10:34 PM PST
    • 21 posts
    December 18, 2009 6:13 AM PST
    Tough call, probably one for an attorney..BUT this is what we have seen a number of stations do. They will put right on their proposal that the spot is property of the station until the client purchases the schedule. And yes, in many cases, the better the spot, the greater the investment for the schedule :)
    • 269 posts
    December 18, 2009 7:47 AM PST
    Our company policy for Radioo, Internet and print (in the old days) has been the same. Once the ad starts the first schedule with us, the ad belongs to the customer. I don't care what they do with it. I care about RADIO WORKING... not some alleged intellectual property concerns.

    One other note: Make sure your emplyee manual lets everyone know that work product of announcers belongs to the stations to do with as they please and that the stations retain all rights to the writing, voice talent etc..
    • 30 posts
    December 18, 2009 8:11 AM PST
    I agree with Mark Levy......... this is ultimately a question of intellectual property. In general, intellectual property laws suggest that ownership defaults to the creator. (stations..ect) There are also little quirks about who produced the ad. (example; union house, agency, so on). I can think of only a very few instances where I would play the ownership card with client.
    • 12 posts
    December 18, 2009 8:12 AM PST
    Remember the client "is paying us money".......the ad is the clients.

    Jeff Wilson
  • December 18, 2009 8:58 AM PST
    I have to agree with you Chris. I understand what every one is saying about intellectual property, but for me, it boils down to this. When I have the opportunity spend precious time with my client, I can choose to spend that time explaining why he can't run our ad on our competition. I would also have to explain why it's our ad and not his ad even though he thinks its his ad. I might even spend some time telling him if he wants to use our ad like that he's going to have to pay extra. Or, I can talk to him about his next promotion, what problems or oppotunities he is confronting, and how he can take adantage of them by advertising on my station. HMMMMM, seems like a tough choice, but I think I will take the latter.
    • 14 posts
    December 18, 2009 11:08 AM PST
    For the most part in our area stations are willing to share ads for clients. I did have one incident a few years ago, I wrote a series of ads for a campaign for a pool company and put them on a cd with no disclaimer that these ads were just samples or the property of a certain station, took to the clients, just knew he was going to buy. He did not a few a weeks later, I called and the ads were on the hold system of his phone. Last time I took out ads with no disclaimer of some sort. That taught me a valuable lesson, the customer is not sold until his name is on the line!!!
  • December 18, 2009 12:13 PM PST
    good question. As our stations develope better web pages, the ability to run video becomes a sales "added Value" (how I hate that term).. Our local cable company (Cable One) is very aggressive and cheap. That is until the client pays the productions costs. I would think if they paid for it, they own it. We live in an area that is 50% satelitte and has OTA translators from Phoenix stations. Free TV is still here and because the translators stayed analog, the old sets still work. I would think the client who buys cable, would like the idea of reaching those who are not on the cable. Also is a chance to point out how many viewers they miss because half the market is on the bird. Hummmmmmm As far as our production. It depends on how much it cost us to produce it. We have on air people, but they do not voice ads, because they all do agency work, And I don't think it's fair ask them to do an ad they would normally get $100 for. . Therefore we import cold reads and I produce it locally. We are not bound by the "bird" so if our ads run 65 seconds. so what. Better to get results than worry about 5 seconds. Bill Taylor KQSS Globe Miami Az
    • 1048 posts
    December 18, 2009 5:55 PM PST

    "Who Owns the Spot?" is one of the first questions I was asked by the attorney that we (my advertising client and I jointly) hired to research an unusual situation. It's not as cut-and-dried as one might suppose - as evidenced by the diversity of opinions posted here in response to the question.

    You may find this story to be of interest.

    In 2003, I created a commercial for my client, Keeney Bros. Music Centers, entitled "Dreaming." It ended with this hook: "Stop Dreaming. Start Playing." The spot generated quite a bit of buzz locally, motivating me to enter it into the 2004 Radio-Mercury Awards. It was the first time I'd ever entered any of my work in competition; to my surprise it ended up winning the the station-produced category, resulting in national exposure for the commercial and its slogan.

    That commercial anchored the whole campaign, with subsequent commercials all ending with the same tagline: "Stop Dreaming. Start Playing."

    After a year or so of running exclusively on my stations, the client sought permission to use the spot(s) on competing stations. Respectful of the time and talent invested in the creation of these commercials and not wanting to jeopardize in any way our profitable working relationship, we agreed on a modest licensing fee and made the commercials available to other stations on which the client wanted to run them.

    Fast-forward to the summer of 2007. The client tells me that the Fender Instrument Company has "stolen" our slogan and is using it to sell their own guitar packages. We have no idea how this came about, but it seems unlikely that it was merely a coincidence.

    Now this is flattering from one point of view: Fender. Using our slogan. Wow!  But my client isn't a Fender dealer, and we're both thinking that this amounts to, well, taking our property - mine as the creator of the material and his as the advertiser - and using it without our consent. (Incidentally, by this time the phrase "Stop Dreaming. Start Playing" has been published on his website, printed on t-shirts, posters, used in print ads, etc., as Keeney Bros. Music Center's tagline or slogan.)

    So, what should we do? Call Fender and ask them to stop?  Maybe get them to pay us something for the use of our slogan? Would they even listen to us?  Maybe we should hire an attorney instead, to contact them in our behalf....

    Finally, we agreed to split the cost of hiring an attorney to investigate our claims and to draft a "cease-and-desist" letter to Fender. Long-story-short: we're told that because Fender is a huge billion-dollar global gorilla with formidable resources at its disposal, we're not in a position to take them to task.

    So, we content ourselves knowing Fender thought our slogan worthy of their use and we move on.

    • 1048 posts
    December 18, 2009 6:03 PM PST
    I envy your ability to create commercials without being "bound by the bird," Bill.

    I remember those days. We created a lot of 5-second and 10-second campaigns, and never had to worry about a 33-second thirty or a 57-second sixty. Long gone, but not forgotten.
    • 19 posts
    December 19, 2009 7:08 AM PST
    Here's where you separate legal from practical.

    Legally you own the spot, unless the client has paid for your services. Practically, if you want to continue to do business with that client, forget about who owns it. Remember, that client has pals that also advertise and how do you want to be known?

    Our job in Radio is to get results for clients and to be know as the station that gets results. We must remember that like in any business, customer service is paramount. Give great service, get results and don't worry about who owns the spot, that's not why we are in broadcasting.

    Now if you want to to get tough, you can charge however, you might lose that client in future buys, unless you are the only station in the market. Remember, any station can be bought around.

    Alan Rock (Orlando, Florida)
    • 1262 posts
    February 5, 2019 10:40 PM PST

    More replies on this topic here: Friday Poll: Who Owns the Spot? (Part 2)