Many broadcasters, both television and radio, have been running the NAB spots on the Future of Television. Those spots contain a description of the service available from local television stations and the new technologies that over-the-air television are in the process of deploying, and end with the suggestion that the Future of Broadcast Television lies in "technology not regulation from Washington DC." Obviously, these ads are geared to address some of the many legislative and administrative issues facing TV broadcasters – including the proposals to take back some of the TV spectrum for wireless broadband uses. Given that these spots could be arguably be seen as addressing Federal issues, to be safe, they should be identified as issue ads in stations’ public inspection files, and appropriate information about those spots should be placed in the files.
The NAB, in announcing the availability of these spots, suggested this same precaution. We’ve written before about issue ads, and the need to place notations in the public file about these ads. For instance, when stations ran ads on the broadcast performance royalty, we suggested that same treatment (and proponents of the royalty complained that broadcasters might not be making such notations). What needs to go in the public file? As the issues are Federal ones (as opposed to state and local issues that have lesser disclosure obligations), the requirements are similar to those that apply to political candidates.