The 2010 political broadcasting season is almost upon us, with Texas leading the way.  With the first 2010 primaries on March 2, candidates in Texas are already in windows during which they need to file the paperwork to qualify for a place on the primary ballot.  Once they qualify for that ballot spot, they become "legally qualified candidates" in the eyes of the FCC, triggering reasonable access (for Federal candidates) and equal opportunities requirements.  Soon after, broadcast stations in Texas need to start according lowest unit rates to candidates (Federal, state and local) in the primary – such rates to start on January 16.  To help broadcasters prepare for the primary and the rest of the election season, David Oxenford and Bobby Baker, the head of the FCC’s Office of Political Programming, conducted a webinar for the Texas Association of Broadcasters on December 2, 2009, originating from the TAB offices in Austin.  The PowerPoint slides used in the presentation is available here.  The Davis Wright Tremaine Political Broadcasting Guide that forms that basis of the TAB’s political guide can be found here.

Texas will have an unusually active political season, with a primary election for Governor, where the State’s sitting Governor’s re-election is being challenged in his own party by one of the state’s US Senators.  Races for the Texas State legislature will also likely be a hotbed of activity as the state will be electing the legislators who preside over Congressional redistricting after the 2010 census – a process that was particularly controversial in Texas after the last census.  Given the likely level of activity, broadcasters in Texas need to immediately start planning for the 2010 election and the obligations that it imposes on broadcasters.   And broadcasters in the rest of the country should similarly be preparing, as these same issues will be arising for them very soon, and advertising sold now could well have an impact on their political rates later in 2010 (see information about the webinar that David and Bobby conducted for 13 other state broadcast associations here).