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When It Comes to Political Broadcast Time Buys – It Pays to Know the Rules

As the dust settles from last week’s Primary Election, broadcasters are returning to more normal advertising schedules full of regular commercial clients.  That said, at least two statewide candidates for office placed political buys last week, in one case, as early as election evening.  The other statewide candidate made requests to buy air time, at lowest unit charge, for the coming weeks through the May primary runoff election.   

This election year, TAB has noticed two trends involving political ads placed by ad agencies representing legally qualified candidates.  TAB has fielded a few calls about political ads placed by campaign ad agencies that failed to have the proper sponsorship identification.  While a station may not censor a use by a legally qualified candidate, it is responsible for ensuring candidate advertisements have proper sponsorship identification.

The other area of concern? 

TAB routinely fields questions from stations who have a campaign’s ad agency insisting that a spot is entitled to LUC, even when it is not.  Sometimes it is a case of the ad failing to have the candidate’s recognizable voice and/or image in a TV commercial, or the candidate’s voice in a radio commercial.  In the case of one statewide candidate’s inquiries last week, the agency insisted that the candidate was entitled to LUC because there is an imminent primary runoff election.  There are a couple of problems with that interpretation of the FCC’s rules.

First, the candidate had won his primary race outright and as such, there is no primary runoff election for that office.  The next ballot for that office is the November general election.  Candidates may buy political advertising time from stations during any time of the year.  LUC, however, only applies to “uses” by legally qualified candidates during an FCC political window for a particular election in which they are running.  Even if a legally quailed candidate were a runoff participant, the political window for the May 22 primary runoff election does not open until April 7.

Want to know more about the FCC’s Political Broadcast rules?

Download your copy of the TAB Guide to Political Broadcasting from the members section of the TAB website.  

This fact-filled legal guide, prepared by attorney David Oxenford of TAB Associate member law firm Wilkinson Barker Knauer, is presented in an easy to understand question and answer format.  It covers all aspects of the FCC’s political broadcasting rules which stations typically encounter during an election year.

Have a specific question about the FCC’s political rules? Contact TAB’s Michael Schneider or call (512) 322-9944.

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