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It’s an even-numbered year and you know what that means: midterm election campaigns are heating up across the country. For consumers this means the airing of a seemingly endless stream of political ads. For many media companies these often-zealous – and increasingly expensive — races can mean a boost to their bottom line.
In Chicago, where I live, the election season officially kicked off Jan. 15, so we’ve been subject to campaign ads for well over two months. It’s part of what makes this country a special place. As it turns out, though, despite the influx of revenue these ads can bring, there are some complications around political advertising that may serve as a pitfall for broadcasters.
The March/April issue of TFM, the publication for members of the Media Financial Management Association for which I serve as president-CEO, includes a very timely and rather eye-opening column, titled “Political Ad Pitfalls.”
Authored by legal eagle Dawn Sciarrino, a member of the law firm Sciarrino & Shubert, PLLC, the piece offers a tutorial and advice around third-party ads, which are more complicated than they may first appear. While these ads can be big moneymakers for radio and local TV stations — and have become the mainstay of many political campaigns over the past decades — there are a raft of rules broadcasters must wade through in order to avoid legal snares.
First, a definition of third-party ads: In general, third parties can be any individual or organization that participates in political activities