Two leading communications associations have strong concerns about pending legislation concerning election advertising. In particular, bringing the stature of certain groups up to the federal candidate level could choke regular advertisers out during election season.
The organizations object to extending lowest unit charge to political parties and communities. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), they explained, “this provision would retroactively expand the LUC window, require priority placement of certain federal candidate ads and impose burdensome and unworkable reporting regulations on your local content distributors.” They noted that no less an judicial institution than the Supreme Court has held that PACs and the like to not warrant any special favors from the press than those afforded other citizens and entities.
They also pointed out the damage a sudden influx of new political advertising, business written off the bottom of the rate card, could have on the uninterrupted normal flow of business. “This change to current law could have the unintended consequence of displacing local advertising business during the election cycle,” they pointed out.
The letter was signed by NAB Joint Board Chairman Steve Newberry and NCTA President/CEO Kyle McSlarrow.
RBR-TVBR observation: Hot political dollars are great when they come, but they are seasonal and are the butter of the broadcast business, not the bread. More pointedly, political is great during economic down cycles, but can be a double-edged sword at others. NAB and NCTA are right to be concerned about chasing standard broadcast and cable clients to other media during hot campaigns.
Furthermore, it is bad enough that federal candidates have selfishly written the lowest unit charge laws for their own benefit – that too damages the media that by law has to run like a business, not a marketing valet service for politicians. The thought of extending LUC even further – leading most likely to even more misleading and ugly attack advertising than we already suffer through – is distasteful in the extreme.