At least two NBC-affiliates recently aired a controversial anti-abortion ad after dozens of stations across the country declined to run the commercial.
KSHB in Kansas City and KFOR in Oklahoma City both aired an ad from dubious presidential hopeful Randall Terry that includes graphic images of aborted fetuses. A number of stations, most notably WMAQ in Chicago, declined to run the ad because they did not consider Terry to be a serious candidate (Terry is a lifelong conservative who is now running for president as a Democrat).
“Political discourse is crucial in an open and democratic society,” KSHB general manager Mike Vrabac said in a statement, explaining the station’s decision to air the commercial during its 6 and 10 p.m. newscasts.
“While some individuals may not agree with his position, under FCC regulations, Mr. Terry has the legal right to run the ad in our state,” Vrabac added. “The station cannot legally deny access or edit the spot in any way.”
According to the FCC, though, KSHB probably did have the right to deny the ad.
Last Friday, spurred on by complaints from Terry, the FCC ruled that WMAQ was not unreasonable in denying Terry access to ad time because the self-proclaimed presidential hopeful was unable to prove that he was indeed a legally qualified candidate.
“Review of the information provided by Terry to the station regarding his substantial showing demonstrates that much of it is either incomplete or without specific facts to support his claim,” the FCC concluded. “The Commission does not require or expect broadcasters to act as private investigators to ascertain the facts relating to claims of campaign activities.”
In Oklahoma City, KFOR ran the ad on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday but included a 30-second disclaimer before the commercial, advising viewers to turn off the TV.
The ad in question can be viewed here.
Below is the FCC ruling on WMAQ…