FCC: Station Lowest Unit Rate Obligation Ends Nov. 3

Exterior of the FCC building in Washington, D.C.
(Image credit: FCC)

The FCC said broadcasters don't have to offer the lowest unit rate for political ads in the post-election period--some races may not have been decided and counting could go on for days and some close races may not be called for longer than that if there are legal challenges and/or recounts.

The FCC's Media Bureau said that it had been getting a lot of inquiries from broadcasters, TV and radio, about whether they would be obligated to provide those government-dictated lower prices--the lowest price it charges commercial advertisers--for any political ads "on behalf of contenders in races for which final results of the election remain pending."

The FCC said that the lowest unit charge is confined to the days preceding the date of the general election, which the FCC is interpreting as Nov. 3, as "designated by federal law."

Earlier in the election season, the FCC advised broadcasters that ad time they gave to businesses to help them out during the pandemic would not factor into lowest unit rate calculations, so long as those free spots are not part of an existing ad contract.

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.