Political Window Now Open for November General Electionposted on 9.10.2018
- TAB Members-Only Political Advertising Webinar Sept. 13
The FCC’s 60-day political window for the Nov. 6 general election opened this past Friday. The start of the political window is important to note as most of the FCC’s political rules come into play during this period, such as Lowest Unit Charge, equal access, etc.
Lowest Unit Charge, also called Lowest Unit Rate, or their shorthand, LUC or LUR, both describe a key component of the FCC political rules as they apply within the window. Attorney Gregg Skall of TAB Associate member law firm Womble Bond Dickinson explains LUC as the lowest price charged for any individual unit of time sold in the same class, in the same length and program or daypart that runs within the Lowest Unit Charge window. Skall will discuss LUC/LUR during this Thursday’s free TAB political broadcast webinar.
The 90-minute session takes place at 2pm CT on Sept. 13. Any number of TAB member station staff can sign up for this free TAB webinar offering. This session will be of interest to station management, sales and news staff.
“The basic point to remember is this - the political advertiser must be treated no worse than a station’s ‘most favored advertiser’ without regard to the quantity of advertising purchased,” said Skall.
“Even though the political advertiser may be buying only a few spots over a relatively short period of time, the candidate must be treated as though he or she had been the station’s best advertiser to whom quantity discounts may have been provided.”
LUC/LUR applies to candidate “uses” only – advertisements placed by a “legally qualified candidate” or their representative such as a campaign or the campaign’s ad agency. To qualify as a “use”, the advertisement must contain the image or recognizable voice of a legally qualified candidate.
LUC/LUR does not apply to advertisements supporting or opposing political candidates that are placed by third-parties such as a political action committee (PAC).
Texas has already seen third-party PAC advertising this year in the U.S. Senate race between incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Houston and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso. Broadcasters can expect to see more of it as we near the Nov. 6 election, and not just in the metro markets. But PAC advertising will not be limited to the Cruz-O’Rourke contest.
National groups have already said they will be spending political ad dollars in at least three competitive Texas congressional races including:
- CD 7, U.S. Rep. John Culberson, R-Houston, incumbent
- CD 23, U.S Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, incumbent
- CD 32, U.S. Rep. Pet Sessions, R-Dallas, incumbent
There are a handful of other congressional seats that could see some third-party ad inquiries in the Houston, Dallas and San Antonio/Austin markets.
Can My Station Be Sued?
Another important distinction between political ads placed by legally qualified candidates and third- party groups – stations are liable for the content of third-party ads.
Stations have no right of censorship for political ads placed by legally qualified candidates. This means stations can and have been sued in Texas for running ads placed by PAC’s and other groups. You can learn more about this issue in Thursday’s webinar.
Skall has written extensively about the factors that determine LUC/LUC and when these special rates apply in an article here.
Questions? Contact TAB's Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.
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