FEC: New Rules Change Political Ad Landscape

The Federal Election Commission adopted new rules last week that would allow companies, labor organizations and other groups to directly buy political advertising--as long as it concerned a political issue.

This activity could prove to be a boon to TV and radio stations, local cable systems and others electronic advertising. The new rules, however, don't apply to print advertising.

Previously, companies were not allowed to directly buy any political advertising if it mentioned a specific candidate. Much of their political messaging efforts involved backing specific political action groups.

The FEC's new rule was adopted to bring it into line with a Supreme Court ruling in June. The push for the new rule could mean these new ads would be placed in primaries to be held starting next month--30 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

The FEC said the new ads could mention a specific political candidate, but only in the context of a political issue. The Supreme Court in June ruled that if a company's commercial message was focused on a specific political candidate, it could be constituted as "electioneering communication."



The agency will offer specific examples on their Web site on how companies or groups could craft messages.

Under new rules, corporations can fund advertising on issues up to 30 days before a primary and 60 days before an election. Advertisers must disclose which organization or individual is funding the ads.

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