NCTA Backs NAB Challenge to FCC Political Ad Clarification

Said "good faith efforts" should be disclosure standard
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Cable operators are on the same page as broadcasters when it comes to the FCC's approach to political ad disclosures.

The National Association of Broadcasters joined with Hearst Television, Graham Media Group, Nexstar, Fox, Tegna and Scripps, to ask the FCC to narrow its definition of non-candidate ads on “any political matter of national importance" (i.e. "issue" ads) and the disclosure obligations on broadcasters to identify the issues in those ads.

Related: FCC Clarifies Political Ad Disclosures

That came in a petition for reconsideration of the FCC's order resolving complaints against broadcast groups for failure to properly identify such ads. 

In comments solicited by the FCC on that petition, NCTA-the Internet & Television Association said that it backed the petition.

NCTA said it agreed with the National Association of Broadcasters that the FCC "imposed an overly strict standard that fails to account for the frenetic pace of political advertising sales during the heat of an election."

NAB wants the FCC to eliminate the mandate that stations identify all political matters of national importance referenced in each ad and instead only require them to make a "reasonable, good faith" effort to disclose topics that are the main focus of the ad. They also want the freedom to use their own judgment about when using an acronym rather than spelling out the name is okay. 

NCTA agrees. It also agreed with NAB that "the Commission should not have adopted new political file requirements without public input, interpreting for the first time the “issue advertising” provisions added to the Communications Act by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA).

It also said the FCC did not consider the impact of the decision on cable operators, who are also subject to political ad disclosures.

"While it is essential to identify political advertisers, it is equally important to allow broadcast and cable media reasonable leeway on national issues advertising," said Adonis Hoffman, former ad industry exec and FCC official. "That goes to the core of protected First Amendment political speech, which advertisers should not be denied."

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