Hi, I’m Danny Karon, your Lovable Lawyer here with your midterm shot of legal wellness. Political ads are everywhere. We cannot avoid them. But, when TV, radio, and cable broadcasters run them, what rules must they follow? Do they have to run ads for both sides? Can they censor political ads?
Well, the rules on political advertising are found in the Communications Act of 1934, which we’ll talk about in a second. But first, there are two types of political ads – candidate ads and issue ads. Candidate ads come directly from the candidate. Issue ads are from individuals, corporations, or political action committees.
TV, radio, and cable don’t have to run candidate or issue ads, but they do because they rely on advertising to make money. If a broadcasting station runs one candidate’s ad, the Communications Act requires that they give the other Federal candidate, meaning someone running for President, U.S house, or U.S Senate “reasonable access” so long as they’re “legally qualified.” Reasonable access means if one candidate buys some great prime-time spots, the opposing candidate has every right to say that they want as close to an equivalent schedule as you can give them for the same price. That’s what’s called equal time. Legally qualified means the candidate has publicly announced their intention to run for office and is qualified under local, state, or federal law to hold that office. A bit circular but that’s Congress for you.
As for censoring Canada’s political ads, broadcasters can’t do it. The rationale is that voters will sort through everything and decide for themselves what’s true and what’s not true.
Finally and probably everybody’s favorite, we’ve all heard this at the end of political ads: “I’m [certain name here] and I approve this message.” Candidates say this because of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act’s “stand by your ad” provision. The idea was to limit candidates’ insults and accusations. So much for that.
So, with the election upon us, that’s a little insight into what you’ve all been hit over the head with for the past several months. After Tuesday, it’ll all be over, at least until 2024. If you’d like to learn more about legal wellness, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or visit me at yourlovablelawyer.com. Until next time, I’m Danny Karon, your Lovable Lawyer. Don’t forget to vote.
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