The FCC’s political broadcasting rules can seem impenetrable and ever-changing, yet the same basic rules have been in place for well over a decade, with only minimal changes in the sponsorship identification and public file requirements mandated by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. With a little attention, memorization, and a guide to the rules, the basics of the political rules can be deciphered.  We have put together a Guide to the Political Broadcasting Rules, to help explain these basics.  Our Guide presents information in a Question and Answer format, in Sections explaining various topics involved in the political broadcasting area.  These Sections are:

• The Basics—Speak the Language
• Preparing for an Election—What to Worry About in Pre-election Periods
Reasonable Access—Deciding Which Candidates Can Buy Time
Equal Opportunities—Treating Competing Candidates Alike
No Censorship and Third-Party Ads—What Responsibility Do Stations Have for Content
Lowest Unit Charges—How Much Money Can You Charge for Political Spots
Sponsorship Identification and BCRA Requirements
Public File and Disclosure Statements
• Conclusion—Questions and Resources

The rules essentially require broadcasters to sell rock-bottom priced spots to transient advertisers, who are often the least familiar with broadcast sales practices, yet demand the most time and attention from station sales representatives. Consequently, broadcasters end up getting the least money for spots that take the most time to sell.   And these spots often cause the most heartache, since there is always the threat of FCC enforcement action or  worries about the cost of attorneys to help avoid getting the rules wrong.   Our guide is meant to provide some basic guidelines to help broadcasters identify the most common issues that arise during the election season.  For the complete guide, click here.