Station Rules and Midterm Elections

Election Day brings many topics up for community radio.

November 6 is the day many Americans go to the polls. The midterm elections have generated much interest. How should your station proceed when it comes to candidates, debates and so on?

It is important to remember that stations be aware of rules related to elections. IRS code forbids nonprofits classified as educational (e.g. 501(c)3) from endorsing candidates and ballot measures. For Community Service Grant recipients, violations of IRS or FCC rules can endanger inclusion in the program.

When dealing with races, candidates for the same office regardless of party must be treated in an equal manner. Once a candidate is given access to a station, all other candidates for the same office are entitled to the opportunity. Candidates seeking time must request it within seven days of the opposing candidate’s appearance.

Stations must document candidate on-air appearances in its political file, which is generally part of the public inspection file. Failure to document a broadcast with a candidate in one’s public files may mean the seven-day deadline to request time may be extended.

More materials, including webinars on political broadcasting, are available to NFCB member stations in the Solution Center. If your station is not yet a member, you can join today.

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