2016 Political Broadcast Requirements

To assist our broadcasting clients in preparing for the primary and general elections for state and Federal offices in 2016, we have updated our memo, Political Broadcasting Requirements (available here), regarding the Federal laws and the FCC and FEC regulations applicable to political broadcasting. Legally qualified political candidates who wish to purchase time for “uses” relating to their campaign cannot be charged more than the lowest unit rate for the same class and amount of advertising time for the same time period as regular commercial spot or program time that airs beginning 45 days before a primary, caucus, or primary runoff election and 60 days before a general or special election. The memo describes in detail the FCC’s lowest unit rate requirements, equal opportunities rights, and many other special rules and procedures. Note that this will be the first national election when all commercial television stations will be required to maintain and post online their political files, detailing in near-real time the specific political inquiries and agreements for the sale of political time in a manner that can be easily reviewed by competing candidates and others; radio stations will continue to place this information in paper form in their public files maintained at the main studio.

We have also prepared a chart listing the state and Federal primary and general election dates, along with the corresponding opening dates of the respective lowest unit rate windows, reflecting current information (available here). The primary dates in some states have not been finalized or may still change. We will update this chart on our website as more current information becomes available.

We encourage you to review the FCC’s political broadcasting policies and to prepare the required disclosure statement for distribution to candidates as early as you can. If you have any questions concerning the political broadcasting rules and requirements, please contact your primary attorney in our office.

Categories: Media