Posts in Political Advertising.

Last week, a federal court based in California issued a surprising and sure to be controversial decision finding the Communication Act’s ban on the airing of political and issue advertisements by public broadcasters to be a violation of their First Amendment rights.  The decision is available here.  By a two-to-one majority, the court held that the ban on all paid public issue and political speech by public broadcasters is an unconstitutional content-based restriction on speech because the statute permits paid promotional messages by non-profit advertisers on these same ... Read More 

The primary election in North Carolina is Tuesday, May 8, 2012, with a second primary (if needed) being either June 26 or July 17. The second primary will be June 26 if no second primary is needed for U.S. Representative races and it will be July 17 if there is a second primary for those federal races.  Since there are a number of multi-candidate primaries in the Congressional races, odds are that the second primary will be July 17. If no candidate receives 40% of the vote in the first primary, the second-place finisher can, but doesn't have to, call for a second primary.

We have covered disputes ... Read More 

In the final hours of the last business day before the Super Bowl, the Chief of the FCC's Media Bureau released an order denying the "reasonable access" complaint of Randall Terry against a Chicago television station.

Terry's campaign had been seeking to place ad buys on stations around the country leading up to and during the game.  He claimed he was a "legally qualified candidate" for the Democratic nomination for President. The ads featured disturbing images of aborted fetuses that would be potentially disturbing to some audiences.

As we wrote previously, a "legally ... Read More 

National news outlets are reporting that the NBC Network has asked presidential candidate Mitt Romney to stop using a television ad attacking Newt Gingrich that features former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw.  The ad is available on the Mitt Romney campaign website and features Brokaw's reporting on ethics violations.

Some say the spot gives the impression that NBC is biased against Gingrich or in favor of Romney. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, Brokaw has said he is “extremely uncomfortable with the extended use of my personal image in this political ad.  I do not want my role as ... Read More 

In a truly unusual move, Fox News Network and one of its highest profile journalists, Chris Wallace, filed a lawsuit earlier this month against the campaign of Robin Carnahan, a candidate for U.S. Senate from Missouri.  The lawsuit, which you can read here, alleges claims for copyright infringement, invasion of privacy by misappropriation of likeness, and invasion of the right of publicity by misappropriation of identity.

Those claims arise out of Carnahan's use in a campaign ad of a 24-second clip of Wallace questioning Carnahan's opponent, Roy Blunt, in 2006.  According to the ... Read More 

Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that corporations (and labor unions) may make unlimited expenditures to directly advocate for the election or defeat of a Federal candidate at any point in the election cycle.  The crux of the Court’s decision is that the First Amendment prohibits Congress from banning certain types of political speech based on the corporate identity of the speaker. The decision opens the way for greatly increased participation by corporations—large and small, for-profit and non-profit—in ... Read More 

In a prior post, we reported upon the institution of legal actions in the midst of two high-profile U.S. Senate campaigns.  There were important developments in both matters yesterday.

As we reported, Kay Hagan instituted an action over a political ad run by North Carolina incumbent Elizabeth Dole.  Hagan, who ultimately won the race, filed a document in North Carolina state court contending that Dole's ad contained defamatory statements about her.  Yesterday, Hagan filed papers with the court dismissing her claim.

In Minnesota, incumbent Norm Coleman filed suit over a ... Read More 

Not even two weeks after we highlighted the issue of defamation claims arising from political ads, those very claims are making headlines right now in two high-profile political races.

Just this week, two United States Senate candidates—Minnesota incumbent Norm Coleman and North Carolina challenger Kay Hagan—have instituted legal action against their political opponents over alleged defamation in political ads.

The subject of Coleman’s suit against challenger Al Franken is a political ad claiming that Coleman was “ranked the fourth most corrupt Senator ... Read More 

With two weeks left in a hotly contested election season, the airwaves and newspapers are jammed full of political ads supporting (or attacking) one candidate or another.  These ads make for great political fodder, but they can also present knotty issues for broadcasters and newspapers to consider in deciding what to run and what not to run, especially as the ads become more negative in the late days of the campaign.

With negativity comes the possibility of defamation liability, especially when the target of the negative ad ends up losing the election.  While broadcasters enjoy ... Read More 


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