Advertising and Marketing

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 2/06/2012 03:18:02 PM Eastern

The FCC concluded late Friday that NBC's WMAQ-TV
Chicago was not unreasonable in denying self-described presidential candidate
Randall Terry an opportunity to buy an ad in the Super Bowl broadcast on the
station.

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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