Graphic Abortion Ads in Iowa by Presidential Candidate - And a Seminar on FCC Political Broadcasting Rules

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With the Iowa primary approaching, political ads are increasing on the local Iowa TV stations. While the national press may have been focused on some of the recent Rick Perry ads about the end of "don't ask, don't tell" and its connection to the celebration of Christmas in the public schools, there has been an even more controversial ad running on Iowa TV stations - anti-abortion spots being run by Randall Terry, the head of Operation Rescue, who has announced that he is running for the Democratic nomination for President - challenging President Obama for the privilege of running in next year's election. Some of the planned ads have graphic depictions of the results of abortions. These ads are disturbing to some, and many viewers (and many stations) are concerned and upset about their being broadcast - so why are stations running them? For the most part, it is based on the requirement of Section 315 of the Communications Act that prohibits a station from censoring an ad from a candidate for public office. Not only that, but court rulings concerning the reasonable access provisions of the Communcations Act prohibit stations from channeling potentially disturbing ads to later night hours - limiting stations to a pre-ad disclaimer warning viewers of the content to come and advising them that the ad is being aired by a candidate and is not subject to station censorship (stations should work with counsel to use language on such a disclaimer that has been approved by the FCC).

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Published In: Communications & Media Updates, Elections & Politics Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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