Political Ads Could Be Airing On Public TV, Radio

Romney-2012Too much political advertising on TV airwaves? Wait. Much more could be coming.

A decision by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco could pave the way for political advertising to find its way on public television or radio stations.

A divided 2-1 decision from a panel of judges said the ban of political advertising on public TV and radio stations violates the First Amendment’s free speech clause.

The court said the ban would not threaten to undermine the educational nature of public broadcast stations. But it did uphold a ban on commercials for goods and services on behalf of for-profit companies.

Increasingly public TV and radio stations have been allowing much more messaging of consumer product and service companies, under “sponsorship” models. But that messaging is not in the form of traditional TV commercials.



Estimates are that TV political advertising could hit a record amount to $3 billion or more for 2012. Another projection, from Borrell Associates, says that when including all money from PACs and some 13,000 state and local races, total advertising totals will hit $9.8 billion in 2012.

Judge Carlos Bea, writing the main opinion, said: "Public issue and political advertisements pose no threat of commercialization… By definition, such advertisements do not encourage viewers to buy commercial goods and services."

The lone dissenting judge, Judge Richard Paez, wrote: "The court's judgment will disrupt this policy and could jeopardize the future of public broadcasting. I am not persuaded that the First Amendment mandates such an outcome."

6 comments about "Political Ads Could Be Airing On Public TV, Radio".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. William Hughes from Arnold Aerospace, April 12, 2012 at 8:32 p.m.

    My DVD Player is providing me with my TV Entertainment Needs, ditto for my CD Player and ipod., which supply my Misical Needs Thank Heaven for these devices, which allow me to avoid having to listen to these Buffoons SLANDER each other in their FUTILE effort to sway my Vote.

  2. Ken Hammock from WVFJ, The JOY FM, April 13, 2012 at 8:25 a.m.

    Christian radio stations make up a lot of public radio stations, and if these station start accepting ads from their preferred candidates... they will also have to give equal time to candidates that don't necessarily carry the same beliefs -- i.e. candidates that support gay rights or abortion.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, April 13, 2012 at 9:29 a.m.

    "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech . . ." As long as public airwaves are not used to incite, mislead, threaten, speak or depict obscenity, then the free flow of ideas is a good thing for democracy. The fewer rules about political speech, the better. No one is required to listen.

  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 13, 2012 at 10:26 a.m.

    "Public issue and political pose no threat of commercialization...By definition, such advertisement do not encourage viewers to by commercial goods and services." What rock has that judge live under ? Time to burst his bubble if he wants to stay in a position of power ?

  5. George Parker from Parker Consultants, April 13, 2012 at 10:23 p.m.

    If my local PBS stations start to
    carry political ads... I will no longer support them. It's a simple as that!
    George "AdScam" Parker

  6. Ty Ford from Technique, Inc., April 14, 2012 at 8:46 a.m.

    I'm not red or blue, but given the nature of the current crop of candidates, wouldn't a clear look at truth in advertising policies make most political advertising out of bounds?

Next story loading loading..