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FCC Adds Social Media to Political Programming Rules

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(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. ■