Thursday, October 13, 2011

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Dear Consumer,

This is with respect to your complaint that the news media is not appropriately covering Ron Paul's candidacy for president. At the outset, I should state that the FCC does not have jurisdiction over the written media. Although the FCC does license broadcast stations, we have virtually no control over th...e content of what they air. That is because they are afforded freedom of speech under the First Amendment. Further, there is a specific section of the Communications that prohibits the FCC from censoring program content. The result is that stations have broad discretion in determining what material is aired (short of obscenity, indecency, and matters that present a clear and present danger). Stations can therefore select whatever they want to include in their newscasts and who they interview on interview or call-in programs. With only limited time available for such programming, stations have to use their journalistic judgment as to what to include and what not to include, and the FCC cannot substitute our views for their decisions.

Although there is an equal opportunities law that applies to political candidates, Congress has enacted several exceptions that pretty much limit its application to paid political announcements. Among the exceptions are candidate appearances in newscasts, on regularly scheduled interview programs, and in candidate debates. A candidate's appearance in any of those contexts does not, therefore, create a right of equal time for opponents. Thus, other Republican candidates might be covered more on the news and interview programs, and stations may not appropriately cover Mr. Paul's candidacy, but that is all within an individual station's discretion, and he would not be entitled to equal coverage.

We have found, however, that stations are responsive to the public's comments, and if they receive enough complaints, they could very well modify their programming to provide enhanced coverage of Mr. Paul.

Thank You

FCCInfo@fcc.govSee More
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