Ads planned to run in yesterday’s Super Bowl by Republican candidates in primaries to select candidates for 2022 senate elections drew comments and controversy even before the game, with some calls to block the ads from the air. Ads for a candidate in Pennsylvania used the “Let’s Go Brandon” language generally acknowledged to be an allusion to a profanity directed at President Biden (see article here). In Arizona, a Senate candidate showed the candidate in a fictionalized old west high noon shootout with characters playing President Biden, Nancy Pelosi and Senator Mark Kelly (see article here), which some found particularly offensive because of its associating gun violence with Kelly whose wife, Gabby Giffords, was a victim of such violence while serving in Congress. There were calls for the stations running the game to reject these ads, or for the FCC to penalize stations for those ads. While popular sentiment may call for such actions, the law does not allow that to happen,
We have written about this issue many times before (see, for instance, our refreshers on the rules with respect to candidate ads, here and our article here), yet these issues still come up all the time whenever a legally qualified candidate produces a controversial ad. Broadcasters need to know the rules so that they don’t pull an ad that they are not allowed to censor under the FCC’s rules, and that they don’t run one for which they could in fact have liability.
Continue Reading Controversial Super Bowl Political Ads on Local Stations – Why They Can’t Be Pulled