FCC Adds Social Media to Political Programming Rules

Social media icons on a blue background

(Image credit: Serdarbayraktar via Getty Images)

The FCC plans to vote this month to expand the online activities that define a candidate, and to square its political file rules with the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA).

According to a draft of the proposed report and order (R&O), it would revise the definition of "legally qualified candidate for public office" to include creating a campaign website and the use of social media to further that campaign.

That determination has to do with whether a write-in candidate has made a "substantial showing" of their bona fide candidacy. If a TV station provides airtime to a legally qualified candidate for public office, it must make a similar provision to all other bona fide candidates for that office.

The R&O also revised the political file rules to extend political recordkeeping rules to issue ads -- ads that communicate a message on any political subject of national importance -- as well as campaign ads.

Since FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel has scheduled the item for a vote at a public meeting, it likely has the support of at least one of the Republican commissioners. ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.