Lowest Unit Charges: A Definite Yes for Run-Off Elections


In a public notice, the FCC has issued a friendly reminder that Lowest Unit Charges (commonly known as lowest unit rates) do not apply to post-election political ads — for instance, ads that urge ballots to be counted in any particular manner.

There’s one important caveat, however. Media properties in Georgia take heed, Wilkinson Barker Knauer partner David Oxenford notes.

He points out that Lowest Unit Charges absolutely apply to any elections that are held based on outcomes that were not determinative on Tuesday’s Election Day.

This impacts radio and TV stations in such markets as Albany, Atlanta, Augusta, Macon and Savannah, Ga., where WRHQ-FM owner Jerry Rogers tells RBR+TVBR he’s already looking forward to bonus political dollars from the run-off elections for the U.S. Senate scheduled for Jan. 5, 2021.

According to Oxenford, the Georgia Senate run-off elections have a lowest unit rate period that began Nov. 6.

A 60-day period applies as the run-off is considered by the FCC to be another general election, he says.

“Other states have similar rules for run-offs where no candidate receives 50% of the vote,” Oxenford adds. “So, if there are run-offs in your service area in which candidates want to buy political advertising time, LUC will apply to those elections, and you will need to compute the appropriate period for during which candidates cannot be charged more than the lowest unit charge for commercial advertising of the same class that runs in the same time period.”

— Adam R Jacobson, in Savannah, Ga.