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Changes Coming to TV Political Advertising Disclosures?

It would appear the Federal Election Commission wants to look at revising the technical standards for text in TV political ad disclosures.  David Oxenford, an eagle-eyed attorney with TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer, spotted a recent entry in the Federal Register in which the FEC gave notice of a Petition for Rulemaking proposing changes to the disclosures made in text in TV political ads by creating a different standard for HD broadcasts.

As Oxenford points out, the FEC rules for political advertising affect candidates, not broadcasters, but oftentimes the FEC rules for political advertising get adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.  “Right now, the written disclosures of the sponsor of political ads need to run at four percent of vertical picture height for not less than four seconds – the same requirement reflected in both the FEC and FCC rules,” Oxenford said.  He notes the FEC proposal suggests digital television needs a revised screen height requirement.

“According to the petition, current industry guidelines for a normal disclaimer size is 22 pixels (approximately two percent of the vertical picture height) using HD resolution,” Oxenford said.  “The petition suggests that two percent be adopted as the standard for political disclosures when shown on high definition digital television transmissions, with the four percent obligation being retained for standard definition broadcasts.”  Oxenford said after receiving comments, the FEC will decide whether to commence a formal rulemaking proceeding.

That said, we might see changes in place in time for the next big political advertising year, 2020.  TAB will monitor the effort and keep TV broadcasters informed of any changes to the TV text political disclosure height as enacted by the FEC, and potentially, the FCC.

According to the notice, interested parties must submit comments on the proposal by April 15.

Questions? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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