Jim Ogonowski has a new radio ad that talks a lot about immigration and about Niki Tsongas. Surprise! You can listen to it here.
The content is utterly predictable and uninteresting (immigration! Niki! oogity boogity!) — except for the last few seconds, which contain the familiar disclaimer, spoken by Ogo:
I’m Jim Ogonowski, and I approve this message.
Problem: that’s not enough. In addition to the Federal Election Commission, the Federal Communications Commission also regulates election-related radio and TV advertising. And the Ogo ad appears to be out of compliance with section 315(b) of the Federal Communications Act (47 USC s. 315(b)). That section provides that political advertising must receive the special “lowest unit charge” rate, provided that the ad complies with the following requirements (emphasis mine):
(2) Content of broadcasts
(A) In general
In the case of a candidate for Federal office, such candidate shall not be entitled to receive the [lowest unit charge] rate under paragraph (1)(A) for the use of any broadcasting station unless the candidate provides written certification to the broadcast station that the candidate (and any authorized committee of the candidate) shall not make any direct reference to another candidate for the same office, in any broadcast using the rights and conditions of access under this chapter, unless such reference meets the requirements of subparagraph (C) or (D)….
(D) Radio broadcasts
A candidate meets the requirements of this subparagraph if, in the case of a radio broadcast, the broadcast includes a personal audio statement by the candidate that identifies the candidate, the office the candidate is seeking, and indicates that the candidate has approved the broadcast.
Ogo didn’t say in the ad that he was running for Congress, so he’s not entitled to the “lowest unit charge” for this radio ad. Highly technical? You bet. But them’s the rules.
As far as I can tell, non-compliance with this FCC statute isn’t punishable by a fine, but it does appear that it might end up costing the Ogo campaign extra money, since the radio stations running the ad would be entitled to charge more than the lowest unit charge.