Ban on Public TV Political Ads Ruled Legal

Monday, 02 Dec 2013 03:03 PM

 

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A U.S. law banning public radio and television stations from running paid advertisements for political candidates and corporations was upheld by a federal appeals court.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco said in a 9-2 ruling today that the government has a substantial interest in imposing advertising restrictions to “preserve the essence of public broadcast programming.”

“In a classic case of ‘follow the money,’ Congress recognized that advertising would change the character of public broadcast programming and undermine the intended distinction between commercial and noncommercial broadcasting,” the court’s majority said.

The ruling reverses a 2-1 decision by a three-judge panel of the court last year striking down the law as unconstitutional.

The court ruled in a lawsuit brought by Minority Television Project Inc., a California nonprofit group that operates the public television station KMTP. The station, based in Palo Alto, California, was fined by the Federal Communications Commission for violating the ban on public stations’ airing paid advertisements from auto and airline companies.

The station sued the FCC claiming the ban on ads violated its right to free speech.


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