NAB Odd Man Out on Odd-Lot Political Ads

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The FCC Wednesday upheld a 1999 ruling allowing candidates for federal office to buy "odd-lot" ads of nonstandard length. The idea was to give cash-strapped candidates an opportunity to purchase something besides 30-second spots or expensive program-length commercials.

Media Access Project and People for the American Way pushed for the ruling thinking five-minute buys would give politicians a chance to deliver more substantive messages without busting their budgets.

The ruling overturned a ban on odd-lots that had been in place since 1994. In rejecting the NAB’s appeal, the FCC said requiring odd-lot ads is in line with a previous FCC order issued during President Carter’s reelection campaign. The commission also noted that stations still can reject requests on a case-by-case basis if they disrupt TV schedules.

Wednesday the NAB shrugged off the loss. "We don’t believe this is a huge issue," said spokesman Dennis Wharton. "These rules have been in place since 1999, and we’ve not seen much demand for odd length political ad spots."

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