Media Law Handbook



4. How does the state regulate alcoholic beverage advertising?
2. When are media outlets liable for deceptive and false advertising?

3. What are the restrictions on adoption and childcare service advertising?

Adoptions.   The N.C. General Statutes regulate adoption advertising in public media like newspapers, periodicals and broadcast outlets.  Only a county department of social services, “adoption facilitator,” or “agency” licensed by the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services may advertise in public media for the “place[ment] or accept[ance of] a child for adoption.”[12]  The statutes define an “adoption facilitator” as “an individual or a nonprofit entity that assists biological parents in locating and evaluating prospective parents without charge.”[13]  An “agency” is defined as “a public or private association, corporation, institution or other person or entity” that can legally “place minors for adoption” under the laws of the jurisdiction in which the agency operates.[14]   Adoption agencies licensed by other states are not expressly prohibited from placing adoption advertisements in North Carolina.    

By statute, an individual seeking a child to adopt may advertise but only in a newspaper or periodical, on radio, on broadcast or cable television, or on the Internet.[15]  Before placing such an advertisement, the person must be assessed by a state-approved adoption agency and found “suitable” to adopt a child.[16]  The advertisement must state that the person seeking a child to adopt “has a completed preplacement assessment” and was found “suitable to be an adoptive parent.” The advertisement also must include the name of the agency that completed the assessment and the date the assessment was completed.[17]  The advertisement may state that the person seeking a child to adopt is willing to pay statutory expenses related to the adoption including birth-related medical, hospitalization and travel expenses; legal expenses related to the adoption; and other expenses permitted by statute.[18] 

Anyone who violates state adoption advertising requirements is subject to criminal misdemeanor charges.[19]  However, the statutes do not indicate whether media outlets can be prosecuted for publishing adoption advertisements that fail to comply with the law.  Nonetheless, the statutes broadly authorize district courts to enter injunctions to prohibit anyone from violating state restrictions on placement and advertising in connection with adoptions.[20] 

Childcare services.  North Carolina also prohibits anyone from offering childcare services to the public without first complying with state child welfare statutes.[21]  Under these statutes, “child care” means:

A program or arrangement where three or more children less than 13 years old, who do not reside where the care is provided, receive care on a regular basis or at least once per week for more than four hours but less than 24 hours per day from persons other than their guardians or full-time custodians or from persons not related to them by birth, marriage, or adoption.[22]

Under these provisions, an advertisement for childcare services as defined in the statutes must include the identifying number that is on the provider’s required state license or letter of compliance.[23]   


[12] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 48-10-101(b).

[13] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 48-1-101(3a).

[14] Id. at (4).

[15] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 48-10-101(b1).

[16] Id.

[17] Id.  

[18] See id.  See also N.C. Gen. Stat. § 48-10-103.

[19] N. C. Gen. Stat. § 48-10-101(c).

[20] Id. at (d).  

[21] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 110-98(1).

[22] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 110-86.  There are various exemptions to this definition including public schools, Bible schools when “conducted during vacation periods” and “[c]operative arrangements among parents to provide care for their own children as a convenience rather than for employment,” among others.  Id. at (2)a-j.

[23] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 110-98(2).

[24] N.C. Gen. Stat. § 18B-105(a).  The statute gives the ABC Commission specific authority to enact rules that:

(1) Prohibit or regulate advertising of alcoholic beverages by permittees in newspapers, pamphlets, and other print media;

(2) Prohibit or regulate advertising by on-premises permittees of brands or prices of alcoholic beverages via newspapers, radio, television, and other mass media;

(3) Prohibit deceptive or misleading advertising of alcoholic beverages;

(4) Require all advertisements of alcoholic beverages to disclose fully the identity of the advertiser and the products being advertised;

(5) Prohibit advertisements of alcoholic beverages on the premises of a permittee, or regulate the size, number, and appearance of those advertisements;

(6) Prohibit or regulate advertisement of prices and alcoholic beverages on the premises of a permitee;

(7) Prohibit or regulate alcoholic beverage advertisements on billboards;

(8) Prohibit alcoholic beverage advertisements on outdoor signs, or regulate the nature, size, number, and appearance of those advertisements;

(9) Prohibit or regulate advertising of alcoholic beverages by mail;

(10) Prohibit or regulate contests, games, or other promotions which serve or tend to serve as advertisement for a specific brand or brands of alcoholic beverages; and

(11) Prohibit or regulate any advertising of alcoholic beverages which is contrary to the public interest.

Id. at (b).  The term “permitee” is defined in the ABC Commission rules as any person to whom the commission has issued a “permit,” which means a “written or printed authorization to engage in some phase of the alcoholic beverage industry.”  4 N.C. Admin. Code § 2R.0103(8)-(9).  Other rules require that permittees and affiliates comply with all commission rules when advertising alcoholic beverages in any advertising medium and only advertise brands listed as approved by the commission at the time the advertising is published.  4 N.C. Admin. Code § 2S.1004(a), (d).  


4. How does the state regulate alcoholic beverage advertising?
2. When are media outlets liable for deceptive and false advertising?

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