Here Come Possible Revisions to FCC Political Rules


WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Media Bureau has opened what is formally called MB Docket No. 21-293.

It deals with “Revisions to Political Programming and Record-Keeping Rules,” and it is certainly a topic of interest for every broadcast media C-Suite executive.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking proposes to update the Commission’s political programming and recordkeeping rules for broadcast licensees, cable television system operators, Direct Broadcast Satellite (DBS) service providers, and Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service (SDARS) licensees.

“The proposed updates would conform our rules with statutory amendments, increase transparency, and reflect modern campaign practices,” the FCC says.

The NPRM proposes two specific actions.

First, the Commission proposes to revise the definition of “legally qualified candidate for public office” in the Commission’s political programming rules 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.

Second, the FCC proposes to revise the Commission’s political recordkeeping rules to conform with the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) to include any request for the purchase of advertising time that “communicates a message relating to any political matter of national importance” (i.e., issue ads) and specify the records that must be maintained.

A Comment Date and Reply Comment Date are forthcoming, as they will respectively reflect 30 days and 45 days from the date the NPRM is published in the Federal Register.