The FCC this week issued an Order reconsidering some of the issues addressed in its October 2019 orders (which we summarized here) interpreting its political advertising rules. Those October interpretations required that broadcasters who run ads addressing federal issues must include in the political file, maintained as part of their online public file, information about all of the candidates and issues discussed in such ads, not just the most prominent issue or candidate it discusses. The October ruling also required that stations inquire of issue advertisers (or their agencies) about the names of the chief executive officers or members of their boards of directors if the station is provided with only one name, as the rules require the disclosure of all of the officers or directors of such organizations and the FCC assumes that most of these groups have more than one officer or director. The October rulings also warned stations against the use of acronyms in their public file where such abbreviations could be misleading to the general public when they view the political file.
The reconsideration addressed two aspects of the October ruling. First, it made clear that the ruling applied only to federal issue ads, not to ads bought by candidates or their authorized campaign committees. That seemed to be clear from other statements made by the FCC and its staff (see our article here) but the reconsideration makes it explicit.
Continue Reading FCC Clarifies Its Ruling on Political File Obligations for Federal Issue Ads