Broadcast Law Blog

Broadcast Law Blog

Tag Archives: political

Some PACs Stop Running “Electioneering Communication” Ads to Avoid Reporting Requirements

Posted in Advertising Issues, Political Broadcasting
In recent days we have seen political action committees (PACs) claiming they are "prohibited" from running political ads in primary states due to "new rules" regarding "electioneering communications."  As explained below, these claims are incorrect.  What they are really doing is trying to avoid the need to reveal the identity of their contributors, following a US District Court decision … Continue Reading

What is the Impact on Broadcasters of Supreme Court Decision that Corporations Can Buy Political Ads? More Money, More Ad Challenges and the Return of the Zapple Doctrine

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting
The Supreme Court Decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, freeing corporations to use their corporate funds to take explicit positions on political campaigns, has been mostly analyzed by broadcast trade publications as a good thing – creating one more class of potential buyers for broadcaster’s advertising time during the political season – which seems … Continue Reading

David Oxenford and FCC’s Bobby Baker Prepare Broadcasters for 2010 Elections with Webinar on Political Broadcasting Rules

Posted in Appearances, Political Broadcasting
On November 10, Davis Wright Tremaine’s David Oxenford and Bobby Baker, the head of the FCC’s Office of Political Broadcasting, conducted a webinar on the FCC’s political broadcasting rules and policies.  The webinar originated from Lansing, Michigan, before an audience of Michigan Broadcasters, and was webcast to broadcasters in 13 other states.  Topics discussed included reasonable access, … Continue Reading

Health Policy Ads on Broadcast Stations – Remember Your Public File Obligations

Posted in Advertising Issues, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting
A story in today’s Wall Street Journal discusses the significant amount of money being spent on television advertising for and against pending proposals for health care reform.  As we have written before, broadcasters are required to keep in their public file information about advertising dealing with Federal issues - records as detailed as those kept for political candidates.  … Continue Reading

Remember FCC Public File Obligations When Running Issue Advertising

Posted in Political Broadcasting
We’re not even in what most would consider election season – except for the two states with off-year governor’s contests and those other states with various state and municipal elections. Yet political ads are running on broadcast stations across the country.  Republican groups have announced plans to run ads attacking certain Democratic Congressmen who are perceived as vulnerable, while certain Democratic … Continue Reading

Reminder: Equal Time and Lowest Unit Rate Rules Apply to State and Municipal Elections

Posted in Political Broadcasting
While it seems like we just finished the election season, it seems like there is always an election somewhere.  We are still getting calls about municipal and other state and local elections that are underway.  And broadcasters need to remember that these elections, like the Federal elections that we’ve just been through, are subject to the … Continue Reading

Fairness Doctrine Back in the News (Part 1) – What’s It all About?

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting
Since the election of President Obama and the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, the fears of the return of the Fairness Doctrine have been highlighted on talk radio, online, by emails and in conversations throughout the broadcast industry.  Even though President Obama had stated that he was not in favor of its return, … Continue Reading

Gazing Into the Crystal Ball – The Outlook for Broadcast Regulation in 2009

Posted in Advertising Issues, AM Radio, Broadcast Performance Royalty, Cable Carriage, Digital Radio, Digital Television, EEO Compliance/Diversity, Fairness Doctrine, General FCC, Indecency, Internet Radio, Low Power Television/Class A TV, Multiple Ownership Rules, Payola and Sponsorship Identification, Political Broadcasting, Programming Regulations, Public Interest Obligations/Localism
Come the New Year, we all engage in speculation about what’s ahead in our chosen fields, so it’s time for us to look into our crystal ball to try to discern what Washington may have in store for broadcasters in 2009. With each new year, a new set of regulatory issues face the broadcaster from the … Continue Reading

Does McCain on Saturday Night Live Signal the End of Equal Time?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC Equal Time rule (or more properly the "equal opportunities" doctrine) requires that, when a broadcast stations gives one candidate airtime outside of an "exempt program" (essentially news or news interview programs, see our explanation here), it must give the opposing candidate equal time if that opposing candidate requests the time within 7 days of the … Continue Reading

Senate Candidates File Lawsuits For Defamation in TV Commercials – But Not Against the TV Stations

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In two races for the US Senate, candidates have filed defamation lawsuits against their opponents charging that attack ads go over the line from political argument to actionable falsehoods.  However these suits ultimately play out, they demonstrate the premise that we’ve written about before, that broadcast stations are prohibited by FCC rules and the Communications Act from censoring the … Continue Reading

Broadcasters Prohibited From Censoring a Candidate’s Ad

Posted in Political Broadcasting
As we enter the waning days of this election season, where some candidates get more desperate and the attack ads get sharper, broadcasters are often faced with requests that they pull an ad created by a candidate.  Claims are made that the ad contains untrue claims about an opponent or that the ad contains copyrighted material used without permission.  … Continue Reading

Obama Buys A Half Hour of Time on Broadcast Networks – What FCC Legal Issues are Involved?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Press Reports (such as this one) have stated that the Obama campaign has purchased half-hour blocks of time on at least NBC and CBS to broadcast a political infomercial to be aired at 8 PM Eastern time on October 29.  Some reports indicate that other broadcast and cable networks will also be broadcasting the same program.  … Continue Reading

What Happens if a Federal Candidate’s Commercial Does Not Have Proper Sponsorship Disclosure?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Failing to meet the obligations set out under the law for required sponsorship identification on Federal political ads could, theoretically, cost candidates significant amounts of money – if stations decide to hold the candidates to the letter of the law. Under the terms of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA”), Federal candidates airing television commercials that refer … Continue Reading

Political Advertising Rules for Station Websites – Opportunites and Pitfalls

Posted in On Line Media, Political Broadcasting
Each election season brings new issues for broadcasters. In recent years, broadcasters are more and more frequently dealing with requests for political uses of the a station’s website. For the most part, unlike a broadcast station that is subject to the full panoply of the FCC’s political rules, those rules largely don’t apply to station … Continue Reading

Lowest Unit Rates for Political Candidates Begin on September 5; Get Answers to Political Broadcasting Questions from Our Political Broadcasting Guide

Posted in Political Broadcasting
Political Broadcasting season is now in full swing, with the Democrats just ending their convention, and the Republicans beginning theirs next week.  Already, we’ve seen disputes about third party attack ads (see our post here), and there are bound to be many more issues about the FCC’s political broadcasting rules that arise during what looks to … Continue Reading

Independent Groups Start Running Presidential Attack Ads – What Are the Legal Implications for Broadcasters?

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The American Issues Project has recently started running a controversial new television ad attacking Barrack Obama for his connections to former Weather Underground figure William Ayers.  The text of the ad is reported here.  While reportedly some cable outlets (including Fox News) have refused to air the ad, numerous broadcast stations are also wondering what the … Continue Reading

FEC Denies Request for Sponsorship ID Waiver on 10 or 15 Second Political Ads

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The Federal Election Commission ruled recently that it would not grant a waiver of the requirements for a verbal sponsorship identification on ads by an interest group, the Club for Growth, which wanted to run 10 and 15 second commercials opposing Federal candidates for Congress. Because of the abbreviated length of the commercials, the organization wanted the FEC to … Continue Reading

No Candidate, No Fairness Doctrine and No Equal Time

Posted in Fairness Doctrine, Political Broadcasting
The New York Times ran an article about how certain African-American radio hosts were acting as cheerleaders for the Obama campaign, and contrasting that to past elections where talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh gave a boost to Republican candidates on their programs.  How is it that these programs can take political positions without triggering requirements that … Continue Reading

The Politcal Broadcasting Implications of An Olympic Ad Buy

Posted in Political Broadcasting
According to press reports, the Obama campaign is contemplating an ad schedule during the upcoming Summer Olympics.  This raises the question of what political broadcasting rules would apply to such a buy.  The Olympics run from August 8 through 24, before the lowest unit rate window for political candidates.  Thus, the Obama campaign is not entitled to … Continue Reading

RAB Adopts Guidelines for “Posting” – Remember to Consider the Political Broadcasting Implications

Posted in Political Broadcasting
At a meeting held this week, the Radio Advertising Bureau (RAB) adopted Guidelines promoting the use of "posting" or audience delivery guarantees for the radio industry.  While these guidelines are voluntary, and no doubt some broadcasters will not adopt the practice, those who do should be aware of the political broadcasting implications.  For years, at … Continue Reading

FCC Declares 700 Club and TMZ are Exempt From Equal Time – With Some Issues Left Unaddressed

Posted in Political Broadcasting
The FCC today provided two more examples of its policy that virtually any sort of interview program is going to be deemed a "bona fide news interview program" exempt from any claim of equal opportunities (or "equal time" as it is commonly referred to) if the program features an appearance by a political candidate. In the decisions … Continue Reading

On-Air Broadcast Stations Employees Who Run for Elective Office – Equal Time for Local Candidates

Posted in Political Broadcasting
In the last few weeks, I’ve received several calls from broadcasters about on-air employees who have decided to run for local political office, and the equal time obligations that these decisions can create.  Initially, it is important to remember that equal opportunities apply to state and local candidates, as well as Federal candidates.  And the rules apply … Continue Reading