FCC: Political Ads Lowest Unit Rates End on Election Day

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

WASHINGTON—Election results for the presidency and other races may not be known on Nov. 3, but election day puts a bow on the lowest unit charge for political advertising that TV and radio broadcasters were required to implement in the build up to people’s votes being counted.

The FCC’s Media Bureau officially said in a public notice that even if races are still undecided for days, or even weeks, following Nov. 3, broadcasters will not be obligated to provide the lowest unit charge for any post-election political ads.

The Communications Act of 1934 set the rule for broadcasters to give individuals running for public office the lowest unit charge available for 60 days preceding an election. While “election” is not defined by the law, the FCC has interpreted that to mean the election date designated by federal law, in the case of 2020, Nov. 3.

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While stations would no longer be required to charge the lowest unit charge, the FCC does remind them that any ad on behalf of a candidate or communication relating to any political matter of national importance must be uploaded to the station’s online political file.