FCC Moves to Tweak Political Programming Rules

Posted on July 30th, 2021 by

At its August 5th meeting, the FCC is poised to adopt a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to update its political programming and recordkeeping rules to conform the rules to statutory amendments, increase transparency and reflect modern campaign practices.

In particular, the draft NPRM released ahead of the vote proposes to revise the definition of “legally qualified candidate for public office” to add the use of social media and creation of a campaign website to the existing list of activities that may be considered in determining whether an individual running as a write-in candidate has made a “substantial showing” of his or her candidacy in order to be entitled to lowest unit rates and other candidate rights.

In addition, the draft NPRM proposes a revision to the FCC’s political recordkeeping rules to include any request for the purchase of advertising time that “communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance” and to specify the records that must be maintained.  Stations were required to take these actions before under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, but the FCC’s rules have not previously been updated to include the requirements.