Forums » Friday Polls

Friday Poll: Who Owns the Spot - Advertiser or Station?

    • 1266 posts
    February 7, 2019 10:39 PM PST

    Happy Friday, everyone!

    This week's poll topic is one that has sparked animated discussion in the past, and since it's been several years, we'd like to revisit the question:

    Who owns the spot – the client for whom it was produced or the station that produced it?

    Looking forward to reading your replies!


    This post was edited by Rebecca Hunt at February 7, 2019 10:44 PM PST
    • 78 posts
    February 8, 2019 2:36 AM PST

    The way I see it, the client owns the spot. I would say that is especially true if the talent was paid to write and/or produce the spot. Even if this is included in the price of the package without separate charges, I think they paid for it and deserve the right to it.

    I have a side business having coins made. I refuse to do business with mints that try to tell me after I have shelled out perhaps $1,500 to $2,000 to create the image I desire, that the design belongs to them. The mint I used would gladly return the coin dies they made for me (and I paid for) when I retired the design. That is, in my mind, how it should work.

    • 42 posts
    February 8, 2019 4:00 AM PST

    The one who paid for it- the client .But the client/station  should sign and agreement on  buyout period and  specify the uses of the spot- eg on roadshow, whats up ,supermarkets . etc  This should be well captured in the model/talent  release form . they may also agree on renewal fee

    if the station produced a pro bono ad , then the station owns it but cant use it without client's approval

    • 55 posts
    February 8, 2019 4:19 AM PST

    What is the context of the question? Are we asking about "ownership" vis a vis the client's right to use the spot on other stations? (This was an ongoing challenge at our station group in Los Angeles.) And in that context, the answer is: It depends. Was the commercial produced at no charge as a value-added service for buying airtime on the station? If so, then the advertiser does not have the right to take that commercial elsewhere UNLESS he pays for that right. When a radio station pays writers, producers and voice talent, they've made an investment in that production on behalf of that advertiser. If the advertiser wants to use that work elsewhere (and if it's a good spot, why wouldn't they?), he should pay for the right. The writer, producer and voice talent all deserve a fee for the use of their work outside the station for which their work was created. In LA, we had a simple fee schedule for any client who asked to use the production elsewhere. HOWEVER...if the advertiser paid the station to have the work produced, it's his. 

    • 18 posts
    February 8, 2019 5:53 AM PST

    I give the client the spot, even a spec spot, even if they don't even purchase a campaign from us. When they do advertise with us, I also encourage them to use it on other radio stations also.

    • 2 posts
    February 8, 2019 6:04 AM PST

    My clients own rights to use the spot on their website/social pages, etc. However, the station owns exclusive use of the spot, unless the client pays a premium to use it on other channels.

    • 1266 posts
    February 8, 2019 11:12 AM PST

    From Wally Banks: Our protocol when it comes to this is that the client owns the spot, and can use it for any other purpose they desire (their website, facebook etc.) OTHER than with a competing radio station/company (regardless of whether it's in our market or not) or platforms associated with said competing station/company.

    • 1266 posts
    February 8, 2019 11:13 AM PST

    From Gene Kuntz: If we write and produce the commercial for a client then the station allows the client the use of that commercial but we still own it. We do allow the client to use the commercial on other stations if they choose to do so. In turn the other local stations allow us to use commercials they produce on our station. We use our local announcers on our station to record those ads and not use the voices from other stations.

    • 1266 posts
    February 8, 2019 11:15 AM PST

    From Caraigh Clarkson: Advertiser owns the spot and can place anywhere they want. We do require a small talent fee to the voice of the commercial if they do go elsewhere. That fee goes right to the talent  

    • 1266 posts
    February 8, 2019 11:15 AM PST

    From Trinity Davies: we have a disclaimer on every script - THE FOLLOWING SCRIPT (WHOLE OR IN PART) IS FOR AIR TIME PURCHASED ON (station name). CONSENT IS REQUIRED FOR USE ELSEWHERE. FEES MAY APPLY. As a general rule - if they pay to run it on our stations first then they can run it anywhere else they choose.

    • 1266 posts
    February 8, 2019 4:14 PM PST

    From Ric Nesbitt: All my spec spots have a header on the file with our imaging voice guy that says "THE FOLLOWING CREATIVE PRODUCTION IS PROPERTY OF CAJUN PRAIRIE BROADCASTING AND MAY NOT BE REPRODUCED OR BROADCAST WITHOUT PERMISSION". Although I do offer the sell the rights of the spot to the client if they want to pay a small service fee. Also, when I do a very highly-produced :60, especially with a jingle, or a long-form program for a client, I have it service marked through the state. Cheap and effective to keep it copyrighted, especially station program names.

    • 1266 posts
    February 8, 2019 4:16 PM PST

    From Tom Burns via the RSC Facebook page: If the station provided production with no production fee it retains ownership. If it charged for production it depends on whether the station allowed its use on its own facilities on a limited time basis or granted ownership to the client.

    • 110 posts
    February 10, 2019 9:32 AM PST

    Interesting responses.  We usually don't have any disclaimers or fine print.

    However, we have a pretty cooperative marketplace.  Our company owns 6 stations, 4 are always in the top 5 ratings.  Another group owns 8 stations, with one in the top 5.

    A third group owns 3 stations. The other stations in our city are smaller and independent.

    We will share produced ads.  When one of our air talents died unexpectedly last summer, a local car dealership switched to another well known local talent with one of the other groups and the sharing of ads continued.

    The exception would be if an air talent's name or call letters are mentioned in the ad, then those are not shared.

    I also have one client that pays extra for an endorsement from our afternoon talk show host.  They also have an iconic jingle.  I will produce a recorded version for us and for a small christian station that uses both the jingle and my guys voice at no charge.   Last year, I needed something similar from the small christian station that had another mutual client and they give me the raw voice tracks and the jingle for this shared client.

    • 1051 posts
    February 10, 2019 2:07 PM PST

    What if...

    ...instead of providing copywriting and production services as a FREE (or "value added") buyout, we licensed our spots to advertisers for the duration of their advertising schedules?

    ...we offered a second license for rebroadcast on other stations for an appropriate fee, with terms and limitations clearly spelled out and legally binding upon the other stations, providing legal remedies for non-compliance?

    ...we stipulated that copywriting/production services involving 30 minutes or less would be provided at no charge, but more complex projects (e.g., interviews-edited-into-commercials, hiring professional voice talent other than station personnel, campaigns involving multiple spots within the flight, etc.) would be charged on a mutually agreed-upon basis, whether by the hour or by the spot?

    Would the quality of our work improve? Would we be more willing to invest whatever time, effort, and talent it took to create truly engaging commercials and campaigns?

    P.S. If we accept the premise that "A thing is worth what you pay for it." (Jim Williams), or "What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value." (Thomas Paine), and we acknowledge that too often our "free creative services" result in hastily written, unremarkable, and often ineffective commercials, perhaps it would be well to reexamine our practices in this area. 

    P.P.S. Not unrelated, this offer from Jerry Lee


    This post was edited by Rod Schwartz at February 10, 2019 2:18 PM PST
    • 5 posts
    March 15, 2019 4:05 PM PDT

    We generally encourage our clients to run the same message across all platforms so if that includes our produced audio I'm never surprised when I hear an ad we produced on another station. 

    I mean... my pride might be hurt if that client isn't on with ME at the moment but I think clients actually see added value in having something that is "theirs" and when they don't have to pay extra for it. I've had more sales close for that reason... especially with smaller businesses who haven't had much advertising experience.

    • 1051 posts
    March 15, 2019 6:18 PM PDT

    David, running the same message across all media and platforms is sound practice. Obviously, national brands and advertisers do this; no reason local advertisers should do differently. 

    As to the "added value" aspect of giving away copy and production services, I'd hasten to add "up to a point." Where exactly that point lies will vary from one company or individual to the next. But if one is going to spend several hours producing a spot or campaign, don't you think there should be appropriate compensation for the time, effort, and talent involved? (It took me many years of doing such work for free to come to this realization. Average work may not merit additional compensation; exceptional work most certainly does. And the additional payment for creative is a drop in the bucket compared to the benefit the advertiser will derive from the extra effort.)