Last year the FCC applied a new interpretation to the law applicable to political advertising. The new interpretation significantly increases the burdens on stations. The interpretation applies only to advertising purchased by third parties such as a non-candidate PACs, Democratic Committee or Republican committees. Under the ruling, a station must report in its Public/Political file not only the name of the candidate for which the advertising is purchased, but every issue of national importance discussed in the advertisement. You can no longer just list the candidate as the issue in these third party advertisements. It requires stations to analyze every third party ad and list every issue. NAB filed a Petition for Reconsideration objecting to the new rule. NYSBA, along with the other 50 State Broadcast Associations filed in support of NAB’s petition. In the 31 page filing we stated:
“Because this sudden deviation by the Commission is unsupported by the law, while being simultaneously far more burdensome than the Supreme Court suggested the First Amendment would permit, the State Associations urge the Commission to promptly grant the Petition in all respects consistent with these comments….
In short, the FCC has not ameliorated the regulatory burden, but intensified it. That (a) violates the fundamental principle of statutory interpretation that statutes should not be read in a manner that creates constitutional doubt if an alternate reading would prevent that result, (b) threatens the judicial demise of all of Sections 504 and 315(e) as being unconstitutional as applied, (c) places an unconscionable regulatory burden on broadcasters, and (d) infringes the First Amendment rights of both broadcasters and issue advertisers.”
Remember the FCC’s decision is simply a new interpretation of an existing statute. We hope the FCC will reconsider and go back to the interpretation it used previously.
To see a copy of the Reply Comments filed with the FCC click HERE.
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