Now that the Democratic and Republican conventions are over and the candidates begin the final sprint to the November 6 elections, the political broadcasting season goes into overdrive. Effective last Friday, lowest unit rates are in effect. In this year which will probably break all records for political spending, is your station ready to comply with all of the political rules? We thought that we’d provide a series of articles on some of the basics of the FCC political broadcasting rules, to make sure that your station is prepared to deal with the most common issues that arise in a political season. Today, as the lowest unit charges have just kicked in, we’ll hit some of the common questions that we get about these rates. In coming days, we’ll address other areas of the FCC’s political rules.
Essentially, lowest unit charges guarantee that, in the 45 days before a primary and the 60 days before a general election, candidates get the lowest rate in any class of advertising time for a spot in that class that is then running on the station. Candidates get the benefit of all volume discounts without having to buy in volume – i.e. the candidate gets the same rate for buying one spot as your most favored advertiser gets for buying hundreds of spots of the same class. But there are so many other aspects to the lowest unit rates, and stations need to be sure that they get these rules right.