With midterm elections fast approaching, candidates for public office and advocates for a variety of political issues are looking to radio and television broadcasters to get their message out. However, broadcasters need to keep in mind that airing these ads comes with upload requirements to a station’s political file, which is located within its online public inspection file (“OPIF”). While this is not an exhaustive list of all political ad compliance requirements, here are two key rules to keep in mind this election season:
What types of ads must be reported?
- Requests for advertisement time for political candidates and for advertisements that communicate a message relating to any matter of national importance.
When must they be uploaded to the OPIF?
- Requests for advertisements must be uploaded within one business day from when the ad request was received regardless of whether it airs – not when the ad was accepted or aired. In addition, stations should be uploading documents at each stage of the buying process, including when the order is finalized, or if any changes are made to the original order.
For LPTV Stations that may accept political advertisements but do not maintain a public inspection file, licensees should maintain an internal record of political ad requests. Stations found in violation of these rules may be subject to consent decree obligations, and the Commission has been handing out some hefty fines for political file violations this year.
For more information, you can view our 2022 Political File Webinar on the CommLaw Blog’s YouTube page. If you have questions about political advertisements and reporting them on your station’s OPIF, contact your FHH attorney.