Tag Archive: Campaign advertisements

FCC Promoting Proposal to Require Local Television Stations to Post Information about Political Advertising on Website

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is actively promoting a proposal that would require local television stations to post information about political advertising on an FCC central website. Local television stations are currently required to maintain public files at their offices for inspection by members of the public. The files normally include information about programming, staffing, and spending on political advertisements. The problem is that few people know about the filing requirement and therefore very few people access the files. The FCC proposal seeks to provide broader access to the public by requiring the television stations to upload the files to an FCC-operated website. Critics assert that the change would be an unnecessary financial burden for local stations and does not clearly benefit the public. However, advocates for the proposal claim that the requirement will make it easier to access public information and provides greater transparency about the political advertisements during political campaigns. In addition, the FCC notes that initial uploading of the files will cost less than $1,000 for most television stations and will save television stations money in the long run by avoiding printing and storage costs. The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal at an April 27 meeting and it seems likely that the measure will pass.

Mitt Romney Campaign Ad, Tom Brokaw, and Fair Use

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has generated some controversy in recent days over a campaign attack ad against rival Newt Gingrich. The ad features old footage of Tom Brokaw reporting on the Newt Gingrich ethics scandal in 1997.  In the ad, Brokaw reports that Gingrich was found guilty by the House ethics committee. Brokaw said in a statement that he is “extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad.” He also said, “I do not want my role as a journalist compromised for political gain by any campaign.” NBC lawyers have asked the Romney campaign to remove the ad and any reference to the network in future campaign ads. However, it is likely that the use of the Tom Brokaw footage by the Romney campaign is permissible under the fair use doctrine.  Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Law allows the reproduction of a particular work if it is considered a “criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.” At the end of the day, it is likely that the Romney campaign will just pull the ad but the genie has already been let out of the bottle. The most significant impact of this controversy is that it has greatly increased circulation and discussion of a negative ad. It thus will probably hurt Gingrich in the polls by reminding voters of his ethical baggage.

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