The FCC has admonished WPCH-TV Atlanta (Meredith) and WSB-TV Atlanta (Georgia Television LLC) for failing to include "certain requests to purchase political ad time" for non-candidate issue ads in their public files.
The admonishment, which is a black mark that goes on their permanent records, resolves a half-dozen complaints filed by Issue One and the Campaign Legal Center dating from August 2017.
The FCC resolved similar complaints in a recent order clarifying the political ad disclosure requirements for issue ads and resolving a number of other complaints. The FCC did not admonish all the stations in that order because it said the rules had been unclear, but it did admonish stations if their conduct was clearly inconsistent with the rules, which it said was the case with the two complaints resolved Tuesday (Dec. 3).
The FCC also said that the stations had filed National Association of Broadcasters disclosure forms for the ads, but just had not filled them out correctly, according to the complainants. The station owners had countered that their disclosure obligations were misstated and the files were substantially complete.
But the FCC concluded that both Meredith and Georgia Television had failed to meaningfully disclose any of the issues of national importance related to the ads.
Broadcasters are currently challenging the FCC's clarification order.
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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.