Facebook Bans Political Ads 7 Days Before An Election. Should TV Do The Same?

What if Facebook made a good move on the political-ad front that other media could follow: Suspend political advertising for seven days before an election.

If local TV stations did the same thing, would that such a bad thing?

We are not talking about banning it completely. Capitalism would still be supreme. But if there was a limit on political advertising, it could give voters a chance to take a breath from all the messaging out there. Maybe voters could do some deeper, less emotionally charged research.

Political TV advertising has been a big thing -- perhaps a savior for local TV stations in their efforts to compete with all things digital. Surely, any limitations on political advertising during key midterm and Presidential election years would be seen as a problem. But digital media could have the same restrictions.

Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs and communications of Facebook, on CNBC on Thursday said the seven-day stoppage of political ads would help give more time to news media and voters to due some last minute fact-checking.



That said, fact-checking while important can be complex. It's  not always totally black and white, especially in real-time.
Even then, the news media has to hope much of this gets absorbed by potential voters.

Now, fact-checking has become a necessary -- especially with faux and/or manipulated advertising content floating around. So, with bad actors still out and about -- especially with Russian-based efforts to back Trump creating disruption of all kinds -- what’s the harm in taking some timeouts?

Facebook makes tons of money from advertising. But much of its millions come from small and mid-sized companies. The social media app will get barely dinged from taking a break.

Political candidates and/or political organization pushing a specific agenda would need to count more on “earned media” to promote stuff -- TV interviews, print-based and digital written stories.

A wide-ranging media ban on political ads in certain periods might force voters to do some legwork, going to a candidates website, for example, to find out detailed positions and plans if elected.

Of the $18.5 billion local TV stations are set to collect this year, according to BIA Advisory Services (down from $19.4 billion last year), TV stations are expected to see a record $3.5 billion in political advertising. Digital advertising for TV stations is around $1.5 bililon. Overall local political advertising is estimated to get to $7 billion.

On the flip side, consider the last days of the 2016 election.

That’s when James Comey, the FBI director, announced the resumption of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, based on "new" evidence -- which ultimately showed nothing, since it was a repeat of earlier emails. But his intrusion cost Clinton the election.

What did political advertising do to help or hurt this news? Probably little at the time.

The big downside here: While he was quick to announce an investigation into Clinton, Comey did not reveal the FBI was investigating Donald Trump’s campaign ties to possible Russian meddling.

Would that have changed anything?

2 comments about "Facebook Bans Political Ads 7 Days Before An Election. Should TV Do The Same?".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Mark Sutton from NHR, September 8, 2020 at 1:14 p.m.

    "But his intrusion cost Clinton the election."

    There is no evidence to that showing up in the exit polls.

  2. John Grono from GAP Research, September 8, 2020 at 5:54 p.m.

    My preference would be to ban politcial advertising on days that end with the letter "Y".

Next story loading loading..