FCC Says WMAQ Had Right to Deny Super Bowl Ad to Candidate
Concluded that Randall Terry did not make a substantial showing of candidacy, and even if it had, the denial was not unreasonable
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/6/2012 3:18:02 PM
Terry had said WMAQ's refusal was unreasonable and made in bad faith. While broadcasters must make ad time available to qualified candidates, it does not have to do so for those who do not make a reasonable showing of that fact, and even if they do, broadcasters still have the final say over content on their air and are allowed to balance requests with other factors.
The FCC concluded that Terry did not make a substantial showing of candidacy, and even if he had, the denial was not unreasonable.
The FCC said Terry's showing was incomplete and did not support his claim and that, since the burden is on the candidate, "the Commission does not require or expect broadcasters to act as private investigators to ascertain the facts relating to claims of campaign activities lacking the specificity needed to establish a showing."
And while Terry said stations in Boston and Springfield, Mo., did accept his ads, the FCC said that did not mean WMAQ's opposite opinion was not reasonable. "We agree that, even if Terry were a legally qualified federal candidate, he would not be entitled to particular placement of his spots on a particular program on a station's broadcast schedule."
The station also pointed out that if it did run the spot in the big game, it would be impossible to provide a similar opportunity after the fact for other candidates who requested such placement.
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