Candidates wanting to air advertisements containing graphic depictions of aborted fetuses presented television stations with a dilemma. Sections 312(a)(7) and 315(a) of the Communications Act prevent broadcasters from censoring or restricting the political advertisements of legally qualified candidates seeking federal office. Under the United States Criminal Code, broadcasting material deemed indecent may result in penalties. Also, the Federal Communications Commission and courts have expressed concern about "harm to children" caused by televised material. While the FCC disagreed with a district court judge's ruling that political ads containing depictions of aborted fetuses were indecent, it did affirm a broadcast licensee's right to "channel" such ads to a time of day when children are less likely to be in the audience. This provides broadcasters, for the first time, with some editorial discretion during federal election seasons. However, by not giving broadcasters control over advertising enjoyed by other media, the FCC may have encouraged candidates to further test the limits of Sections 312 and 315.
Communication Law & Policy
Copyright 1996 Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Ozmun, David, "Abortion and Harm to Children: Limits on Television Political Advertisements" (1996). Articles. 124.