If candidates come trick or treating at your station this weekend, don’t lose your head.
It’s alive!!! The Campaign Season That Would Not Die still walks among us! As Halloween approaches, so does the end of mid-term election season. Notwithstanding the likely onslaught of ghoulies, ghosties, long-legged beasties, things that go bump in the night – and zombies – broadcasters need to remain alert to their political advertising obligations, especially during this last weekend of the campaign season.
In particular, broadcasters need to continue to comply with the reasonable access rights of federal candidates. For some stations, that includes remaining available to receive or change orders from federal candidates over the weekend. Specifically, if a station has provided weekend access to any commercial advertiser, the station must provide the same access to federal candidates. (This weekend access need only be to the same extent granted to commercial advertisers – so, for example, if the station never takes new orders over the weekend from commercial advertisers, the station doesn’t need to do so for federal candidates.)
This right of access does not extend to state and local candidates or non-candidate political ads. As our long-time readers know, candidates for state/local offices and third party political advertisers do not have the reasonable access rights granted to federal candidates. State/local candidates, however, do have equal opportunities rights, so if a station offers weekend access to any candidate for state/local office, equivalent access must be offered to all candidates for that particular office.
Finally, to the extent stations are receiving political advertising requests over the weekend, they should continue to keep their political files up-to-date regarding those requests.
Good luck, and happy trick or treating.