With the shifting dates for the upcoming Presidential primaries, questions have arisen as to when broadcast stations must start to give Lowest Unit rates to candidates for these elections. As it appears that, in some states, the primaries or caucuses for the Republicans and the Democrats may be held on different dates, the Lowest Unit rate periods in those states will be different for each party. For instance, this week’s decision by the Iowa Republican party to move its caucuses up to January 3 will move the beginning of the 45 day period for Lowest Unit Charges for Republican presidential candidates in Iowa to November 19. If the Democrats continue to hold to their planned January 14 caucus date, the Lowest Unit Charge period for Democratic Presidential candidates in Iowa will not start until November 30. Remember, Lowest Unit rates are in effect only for 45 days before a primary (or an open Presidential caucus such as that in Iowa) and the 60 days before a general election. They apply on a race by race basis. Just because you are within the LUC period before one election or primary does not mean that Lowest Unit rates apply to any other race.
This often comes up in Presidential election years when the Presidential caucus or primary in a given state is held early in the year, while the primary for the Congressional, state and local elections are held later in the year. Even though there are declared candidates for those Congressional, state and local elections, Lowest Unit Charges will not apply to these candidates during the early Presidential primary window, but instead will apply only during the 45 days before their own primary elections (and, during those periods in the late spring or summer after the Presidential primaries and more than 60 days before the general elections, the Lowest Unit rates would not apply to the Presidential candidates). Broadcasters need to remain alert as these dates are bound to keep shifting – perhaps right up to election day.