Political Broadcasting

The Federal Election Commission last week voted to open for public comment the question of whether to start a rulemaking proceeding to declare that “deepfakes” or other AI technology used to generate false images of a candidate doing or saying something, without a disclosure that the image, audio or video, was generated by artificial intelligence and portrays fictitious statements and actions, violates the FEC’s rules.  The FEC rule that is allegedly being violated is one that prohibits a candidate or committee from fraudulently misrepresentating that they are “speaking or writing or otherwise acting for or on behalf of any other candidate or political party or employee or agent thereof on a matter which is damaging to such other candidate or political party or employee or agent thereof.”  In other words, the FEC rule prohibits one candidate or committee from falsely issuing statements in the name of an opposing candidate or committee.  The FEC approved the Draft Notice of Availability to initiate the request for public comment on a second rulemaking petition filed by the group Public Citizen, asking for this policy to be adopted.  This Notice of Availability was published in the Federal Register today, initiating the comment period.  The deadline for comments is October 16, 2023.  This is just a preliminary request for comments as to the merits of the Public Citizen petition, and whether the FEC should move forward with a more formal proceeding.

As we wrote in an article a few weeks ago, the FEC had a very similar Notice of Availability before it last month and took no action, after apparently expressing concerns that the FEC does not have statutory authority to regulate deliberately deceptive AI-produced content in campaign ads.  Apparently Public Citizen’s second petition adequately addressed that concern.  The Notice published in the Federal Register today at least starts the process, although it may be some time before any formal rules are adopted.  As we noted in our article, a few states have already taken action to require disclosures about AI content used in political ads, particularly those in state and local elections.  Thus far, there is no similar federal requirement. Continue Reading FEC Asks for Public Comment on Petition for Rulemaking on the Use of Artificial Intelligence in Political Ads

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The FCC released its Report and Order setting the annual regulatory fees that broadcasters must pay for 2023. The Order

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • FEMA and the FCC announced that this year’s Nationwide EAS Test is scheduled for October 4, 2023 (with a back-up

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • Around this time of year, the FCC typically issues a Public Notice reminding TV broadcasters, cable operators, satellite television services,

Stories about “deepfakes,” “synthetic media,” and other forms of artificial intelligence being used in political campaigns, including in advertising messages, have abounded in recent weeks.  There were stories about a superPAC running attack ads against Donald Trump where Trump’s voice was allegedly synthesized to read one of his tweets condemning the Iowa governor for not supporting him in his Presidential campaign.  Similar ads have been run attacking other political figures, prompting calls from some for federal regulation of the use of AI-generated content in political ads.  The Federal Election Commission last month discussed a Petition for Rulemaking filed by the public interest group Public Citizen asking for a rulemaking on the regulation of these ads.  While the FEC staff drafted a “Notification of Availability” to tell the public that the petition was filed and to ask for comments on whether the FEC should start a formal rulemaking on the subject, according to an FEC press release, no action was taken on that Notification.  A bill has also been introduced in both the Senate and the House of Representatives to require that there be disclaimers on all political ads using images or video generated by artificial intelligence revealing that they were artificially generated (see press release here).

These federal efforts to require labeling of political ads using AI have yet to result in any such regulation, but a few states have stepped into the void and adopted their own requirements.   Washington State recently passed legislation requiring the labeling of AI-generated content in political ads.  Some states, including Texas and California, already provide penalties for deepfakes that do not contain a clear public disclosure when used in political ads within a certain period before an election (Texas, within 30 days and California within 60 days).Continue Reading Artificial Intelligence in Political Ads – Legal Issues in Synthetic Media and Deepfakes in Campaign Advertising – Concerns for Broadcasters and Other Media Companies

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

  • The House Energy and Commerce Committee, through its Communications and Technology Subcommittee, announced that its hearing on the AM For

This week brought the news that the Biden administration has nominated Anna Gomez for the open Democratic FCC seat that Gigi Sohn was to fill until she asked that her nomination be withdrawn in March, after a prolonged debate over her confirmation.  Gomez is experienced in government circles, having worked at NTIA (a Department of

Here are some of the regulatory developments of significance to broadcasters from the past week, with links to where you can go to find more information as to how these actions may affect your operations.

Yesterday, the FCC’s Media Bureau released a Public Notice announcing that it was repealing the COVID related guidance released in March 2020 that allowed broadcasters, local cable operators, and other media companies subject to the requirements that political candidates be offered Lowest Unit Rates during pre-election periods, to offer free advertising time to advertisers and

Last week’s announcement of the settlement between Fox News and Dominion Voting Systems certainly dominated the popular press and the discussions among most TV pundits, highlighting the law of defamation for anyone who follows the news.  While the case illustrates the principles that we have written about many times on this blog (see, for instance, our articles here and here), the settlement illustrates for broadcasters and other media companies the real risks that exist when disseminating content that is false and could harm the reputation or business prospects of any recognizable individual or group.

Most particularly, the Fox case sends the message to media companies that defamation claims against public figures are alive and well and have the potential to result in substantial liability. While the bar to a party’s success in raising such a claim remains high, it is not insurmountable.  On this blog, we’ve written less about issues arising from news coverage than those that arise in connection with political advertising.  The same issues that arose in the Fox case can arise in cases where broadcasters run political ads knowing or with reason to believe that they are false.  Thus, our past warnings regarding the  need to be vigilant in assessing non-candidate attacks on other candidates or recognizable individuals remains more important today than  ever, as the Fox case has highlighted the potential path to riches some attacked individuals may see when false attack ads run on broadcast stations or other media.Continue Reading Fox-Dominion Settlement Focuses Light on Defamation Claims – Broadcasters Beware of Airing Untrue Political Ads