Background 

The FCC’s Political Programming staff is responsible for overseeing implementation of Federal statutes and for administering rules and regulations relating to political programming and campaign advertising on radio and television broadcast stations, cable television systems, satellite TV (also referred to as “Direct Broadcast Satellite” or “DBS”) providers, and satellite radio (also referred to as “Satellite Digital Audio Radio Services” or “SDARS”) licensees.  The Political Programming staff carries out its responsibilities in the Media Bureau’s Policy Division.

Areas of Authority

The FCC’s political programming and campaign advertising rules generally govern the circumstances under which broadcast stations and other regulatees air political-related advertisements.  The FCC’s Political Programming staff resolves issues relating to, among other things:

  • “Reasonable access” by legally qualified candidates for federal office
  • “Equal opportunities” (frequently referred to as “equal time”) for legally qualified federal, state, and local candidates
  • The prohibition on censorship of candidate-sponsored ads
  • “Lowest Unit Charges” and “Comparable Rates” that broadcast stations and cable systems may charge legally qualified candidates for their advertisements
  • On-air sponsorship identification for political advertisements
  • Online political files that broadcast stations and other regulatees must maintain for public inspection

The FCC generally does not:

  • Review or pre-approve the content of political ads before they are broadcast
  • Ensure the accuracy of statements that are made by candidates and issue advertisers
  • Require broadcast stations and other regulatees to provide all sides of controversial issues
  • Oversee the nature and extent of the coverage that individual candidates receive in news programs

Political Inspection Files

Broadcast stations, cable system operators, DBS providers, and SDARS licensees are required to maintain public inspection files, of which political files are a part.  Political files contain, among other things:

  • Information about requests for the purchase of broadcast time by or on behalf of legally qualified candidates
  • Information about requests for the purchase of broadcast time by issue advertisers whose ads communicate a message relating to any political matter of national importance
  • Information about free time given to legally qualified candidates for public office

Political files are available for public inspection in an online database hosted by the FCC.  The public may access the political files of any broadcast station, cable system operator, DBS provider or SDARS licensee at: https://publicfiles.fcc.gov

Electioneering Communications Database

Pursuant to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, the FCC is required to maintain an Electioneering Communications Database to allow the public to determine whether a communication sent via a broadcast station, network, cable system and/or satellite system can or cannot reach 50,000 or more people in a particular Congressional District or State.  The Electioneering Communications Database may be found at: http://apps.fcc.gov/ecd

Federal Statutes and Administrative Rules Governing Political Programming

Federal statutes relating to the FCC and political programming may be found in Title 47 of the United States Code.  The FCC’s administrative rules and regulations governing political programming may be found in Title 47 of the Code of Federal Regulations.  For your convenience, you may access these statutes and rules at: https://www.fcc.gov/media/policy/statutes-and-rules-candidate-appearances-advertising

Contact Information

If you have questions concerning the FCC’s political programming and recordkeeping rules, you may contact the Political Programming staff at (202) 418-1440 or campaignlaw@fcc.gov

If you have questions concerning political-related robocalls or unwanted political-related text messages that you are receiving on your landline or mobile phone, please visit the FCC’s Consumer Complaint Center at: https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) also shares some authority in regulating political advertising.  For further information about the FEC’s regulatory authority in this area, you may visit its website located at:  https://www.fec.gov

Political Programming and Recordkeeping Headlines

2021

9/28/21 - Consent Decree
CD Broadcasting Inc. Consent Decree

9/8/21 - Consent Decree
Sunrise Broadcasting, LLC Consent Decree

9/8/21 - Consent Decree
KNZA, Inc. Consent Decree

8/17/21 - Consent Decree
Hull Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

8/13/21 - Consent Decree
Pikes Peak Radio, LLC Consent Decree

8/12/21 - Consent Decree
New Media Broadcasters, Inc. Consent Decree

8/4/21 - NPRM
FCC Proposes Updating Political Programming & Record-Keeping Rules

8/4/21 - Consent Decree
Elk River Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

8/4/21 - Consent Decree
KTRS-AM License, L.L.C. Consent Decree

8/3/21 - Consent Decree
Flood Communications, LLC Consent Decree

8/3/21 - Consent Decree
Flood Communications of Omaha, LLC Consent Decree

8/2/21 - Consent Decree
Magic Air Communications Co. Consent Decree

7/30/21 - Consent Decree
Legacy Communications, LLC Consent Decree

7/30/21 - Consent Decree
Carter Broadcast Group, Inc. Consent Decree

7/29/21 - Consent Decree
WJAG, Inc. Consent Decree

7/29/21 - Consent Decree
McGrath Publishing Company Consent Decree

7/27/21 - Consent Decree
Flood Communications West, LLC Consent Decree

7/27/21 - Consent Decree
Flood Communications of Beatrice, LLC Consent Decree

7/26/21 - Consent Decree
Reyes Media Group, Inc. Consent Decree

7/26/21 - Consent Decree
Brandy Communications Consent Decree

7/21/21 - Consent Decree
Brewer Media Group, LLC Consent Decree

7/21/21 - Consent Decree
Dakota Communications, Ltd. Consent Decree

7/20/21 - Consent Decree
Flood Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

7/20/21 - Consent Decree
First Republic Broadcasting Corporation Consent Decree

7/19/21 - Consent Decree
Glasgow Broadcasting Corp. Consent Decree

7/19/21 - Consent Decree
Greeley Broadcasting Corporation Consent Decree

7/16/21 - Consent Decree
Wayne Radio Works LLC Consent Decree

7/16/21 - Consent Decree
KOFI, Inc. Consent Decree

7/15/21 - Document
Updating Outmoded Political Programming and Record-Keeping Rules

7/15/21 - Consent Decree
Chadrad Communications, Inc. Consent Decree

7/15/21 - Public Notice
Media Bureau Opens MB Docket No. 21-293

5/26/21 - Consent Decree
Grand Junction Media, Inc. Consent Decree

5/14/21 - Consent Decree
Bonneville International Corporation Consent Decree

5/12/21 - Consent Decree
James River Broadcasting Company Consent Decree

5/12/21 - Consent Decree
Winton Road Broadcasting Co., LLC Consent Decree

5/11/21 - Consent Decree
Wolftrax Broadcasting, LLC Consent Decree

5/11/21 - Consent Decree
Western Rockies Radio, Inc. Consent Decree

5/11/21 - Consent Decree
Rose Communications, Inc. Consent Decree

5/10/21 - Consent Decree
Latino Communications, LLC Consent Decree

5/7/21 - Consent Decree
Lincoln County Broadcasters, Inc. Consent Decree

5/7/21 - Consent Decree
Anderson Radio Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

5/6/21 - Consent Decree
Kenneth Clark Consent Decree

5/6/21 - Consent Decree
Bee Broadcasting, Inc Consent Decree

5/4/21 - Consent Decree
San Luis Valley Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

5/4/21 - Consent Decree
Custer County Community Broadcasting Corporation Consent Decree

5/3/21 - Consent Decree
Santamaria Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

5/3/21 - Consent Decree
5 Star Communications Inc. Consent Decree

4/28/21 - Consent Decree
Krystal Broadcasting, Incorporated Consent Decree

4/28/21 - Consent Decree
KLZ Radio, Inc. Consent Decree

4/27/21 - Consent Decree
Bakken Beacon Media, LLC Consent Decree

4/26/21 - Consent Decree
Subarctic Media, LLC Consent Decree

4/26/21 - Consent Decree
D&K Distributors, Inc. Consent Decree

4/23/21 - Consent Decree
Rocky Mountain Radio Group, LLC Consent Decree

3/26/21 - Consent Decree
Crawford County Broadcasting Corp. Consent Decree

3/1/21 - Consent Decree
Radio One Licenses, LLC Consent Decree

2/26/21 - Consent Decree
Bragg Broadcasting Corporation Consent Decree

2/26/21 - Consent Decree
QueenB Radio Wisconsin, Inc. Consent Decree

2/25/21 - Consent Decree
SM-KSGF-AM, LLC Consent Decree

2/25/21 - Consent Decree
Wennes Communications Stations, Inc. Consent Decree

2/23/21 - Consent Decree
SM-KTTS, LLC Consent Decree

2/23/21 - Consent Decree
SM-KSGF-FM, LLC Consent Decree

2/22/21 - Consent Decree
Tri-Rivers Broadcasting Company Consent Decree

2/22/21 - Consent Decree
Delta Broadcasting, LLC Consent Decree

2/18/21 - Consent Decree
O-Town Communications, Inc. Consent Decree

2/17/21 - Consent Decree
Zimmer Radio of Mid-Missouri, Inc. Consent Decree

2/17/21 - Consent Decree
Jomast Corporation Consent Decree

2/16/21 - Consent Decree
Missouri Valley Broadcasting, Inc. Consent Decree

2/12/21 - Consent Decree
Trending Media, Inc. Consent Decree

2/12/21 - Consent Decree
Maquoketa Broadcasting Company Consent Decree

2/11/21 - Consent Decree
Bott Communications, Inc. Consent Decree

2/10/21 - Consent Decree
River City Radio, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

2/10/21 - Consent Decree
Zimmer Radio, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

2/9/21 - Consent Decree
Times-Citizen Communications, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

2/9/21 - Consent Decree
Powell Broadcasting Company Enters into Consent Decree

 

2020

12/8/20 - Consent Decree
Clear Water Brands, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

12/4/20 - Consent Decree
MRR License, LLC Enters into Consent Decree

12/2/20 - Consent Decree
STARadio Corp. Enters into Consent Decree

12/1/20 - Consent Decree
Tuscarawas Broadcasting Company Enters into Consent Decree

11/30/20 - Consent Decree
WGEM License, LLC Enters into Consent Decree

11/30/20 - Consent Decree
Talley Broadcasting Corporation Enters into Consent Decree

11/30/20 - Consent Decree
Courier Communications Corporation Enters into Consent Decree

11/17/20 - Consent Decree
Southern Illinois Radio Group, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

10/26/20 - Consent Decree
Crocodile Broadcasting Corp., Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

10/26/20 - Consent Decree
Franklin Communications, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

10/23/20 - Consent Decree
Radiohio Enters into Consent Decree

10/22/20 - Consent Decree
Impact Radio, LLC Enters into Consent Decree

10/22/20 - Consent Decree
Iron River Community Broadcasting Enters into Consent Decree

10/21/20 - Consent Decree
Forum Communications, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

10/21/20 - Consent Decree
Latitude Media, LLC Enters into Consent Decree

10/19/20 - Consent Decree
Mitten News, LLC Enters into Consent Decree

10/19/20 - Consent Decree
WDLW Radio, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

10/19/20 - Consent Decree
WOBL Radio, Inc. Enters into Consent Decree

10/15/20 - Consent Decree
Lanser Broadcasting Corporation Enters into Consent Decree

4/2/20 - Public Notice
Media Bureau Announces Pleading Cycle for Cable Recordkeeping Rule

3/2/20 - NPRM
FCC Reviewing Recordkeeping Rules on Cable Operators

2/28/20 - News Release
FCC Reviewing Recordkeeping Rules on Cable Operators

2/2/20 - Public Notice
Accessibility Recordkeeping and Contact Information Requirements

2019

FCC > Media Bureau > Policy Division

Bureau/Office: 

Updated: 
Friday, October 15, 2021