|Federal Communications Commission
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Washington, D.C. 20554
|News media information 202 / 418-0500
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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action. See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).
FCC Acts on Petition from Two Consumer Groups: Grants Federal Political Candidates Greater Flexibility in Purchasing Broadcast Advertising Time
Washington, DC --- The Federal Communications Commission, acting on a
petition from the Media Access Project and the People for the American Way, has ruled
that political candidates for the Presidency and the United States Congress should have
more flexibility in purchasing broadcast advertising. Broadcasters generally require that
commercial advertisers purchase time in one-minute or 30-second slots that may not be
useful to a federal political candidate seeking to get a detailed message out to voters. The
FCC ruled that candidates can not be barred from purchasing advertising time in lengths
most useful for their purposes solely because broadcasters sell commercial time in 60-and-
30 second increments. This action reverses an October 3, 1994 FCC Declaratory Ruling
that broadcasters need not sell or furnish legally qualified candidates for federal office time
for political advertising in increments other than those which the station either sold
commercial advertisers or programmed during the one-year period preceding an election.|
The Commission believes that there may be a variety of circumstances where a federal candidate decides that the best campaign strategy involves the use of non-standard length advertising formats and the broadcaster can reasonably make the necessary accommodations. In particular, a candidate may decide that a five-minute program may be a more desirable option because of the expense of purchasing and producing a thirty- minute or longer program, and the brevity of a thirty- or sixty-second spot announcement.
The Commission also believes that a broadcaster can make adjustments to its' programming schedule that are not unnecessarily burdensome. To allow a broadcaster to categorically decide in advance that it will not sell non-standard time, such as a five- minute increment, absolves the broadcaster of even considering the possibility that it could do so.
Commenting on the ruling, FCC Chairman William E. Kennard said, "I want to thank the Media Access Project and the People for the American Way for reviving this debate over broadcast campaign advertising time. It seems to me that there is no solid reason for a blanket rejection of political spots that are of non-standard length. I think voters will benefit from political messages that are longer than a one minute- or 30- second spot. Candidates will be able to use this new flexibility to better inform voters and get a more complete message out."
Mass Media Bureau contacts: Susan Fox at (202) 418-2600 or Bobby Baker at (202) 418-1440. TTY: (202) 418-1398 (Office of Public Affairs).