Political Ads: Don't You Love Them?

By: Jim Ogle
By: Jim Ogle

"It is along time to elections, when i see a political add (sic) come on th(e) tv i switch to another channel and stay with them untill (sic)i see anothher (sic) one. Why do we have to be annoyed with this ----  so early??????"

This note from this morning (Friday) isn't the only one expressing this type of opinion to me about the recent political spot from the Congressional Club for Growth that attacks Lynn Jenkins's voting record on taxes.  I just talked to another woman this morning who was so frustrated by the spots she was changing the channel each time this spot comes on air.

Why is a politically-oriented spot running 14 months before the primary election in August 2008?

I think you can blame two different trends-- the relatively few seats that separate the political parties over control of the House of Representatives and the early presidential campaign for 2008.

Rep. Nancy Boyda's victory over incumbent Congressman Jim Ryun was probably the biggest upset of the 2006 House race.  Few, if any, "experts" predicted that victory.  Now those same "experts" expect that the her race for re-election will be one of a handful targeted by both political parties.  It isn't surprising there is early interest in this race.

That is heightened by the early presidential campaign.  With most of the presidential primaries occurring in the first two months of 2008, what usually started in late 2007 now started at the end of 2006.  We have already had a number of "debates" among candidates for both parties.

That means interest groups are jumping into this market with their messages right now, not in a year.

You may have not noticed that this is actually the third ad to be run in this market on a broadcast basis.  The US Chamber of Commerce and union groups have run ads both attacking and supporting Boyda's initial congressional service.

I am often asked by those who complain about these spots "why do you allow them?"  My answer is, you don't want me to choose when and where people can access the airways.  The law says they groups must identify themselves so that you know who made the ad.  I am allowed to take the ad off our air if the information is false or it is salacious.  Generally, that is the rule for all the third-party special interest groups. 

The rules are even tighter when candidates pay for the ads.  I cannot force a change in content.  I can only pull if it may violate decency standards.

That's why, with this third-party ad from the Congressional Club for Growth, I actually pulled the ad for a short period of time.  I had found that one of the citations used to document the claims in the ad didn't fully support that claim.  I pulled the ad and asked them to change it.  It took them a couple of days to get the changed, new ad to us.  It is the one you see on air now.

I firmly believe that you don't want us to choose whether an ad is "fair" or appropriate.  Fundamentally, freedom of speech is always a matter of opinion and perspective.  Some people will agree with what is said.  Some people won't agree.  If someone steps in to referee, then you give that person the power to control the discussion.

I don't favor that.

What do you think?






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