Broadcast stations must air ads sponsored by federal candidates, but they can reject ads from outside groups, or if they chose to air them, they may insist that they are truthful.
The level of inaccuracy in third-party presidential ads has been high in the current campaign. An Annenberg Public Policy Center study shows that from the Iowa caucuses through the Wisconsin primary, almost 57 percent of the $41.1 million spent by the four highest-spending third-party groups was devoted to 19 ads containing misleading claims. These deceptions could shift votes.
Broadcast stations can charge more for third-party ads than those for federal candidates and they make big profits airing them. But by taking seriously their civic responsibilities and their right to insist on the accuracy of third-party ads and regularly debunking deceptive political ad content, broadcast stations can translate some of those profits into protection for the public they serve.
A new campaign sponsored by Annenberg Public Policy Center is asking stations to do just that. They are asking the public to go to the “Stand by Your Ad” pages at APPC’s www.flackcheck.org and emailing local station manager a message to protect their viewers from these deceptive ads. The process only takes a couple of minutes. — Michael Blum
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