KOLR10 Insider: The Rules Behind Political Ads


SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — It’s almost September and while the November election is still weeks away, you are already seeing local airwaves packed with political ads.

We decided to explain the rules behind what you’re seeing and how we vet the claims in some of those ads.

We received a Facebook message last week about political advertising and it poses a question a lot of you may wonder too.

A viewer named Dan wrote in saying: “Why do you guys keep showing an ad against Senator McCaskill that has been proven wrong?  I guess it’s all about money and not honesty with your station.”

I messaged Dan back asking for him to tell us which ad he’s referring to so that we could check it out. He didn’t reply back. But it raises the question: How do we check the accuracy of political ads?

You have to consider two things: claims by the candidates in advertising can’t be edited, but our sales management team has to fact-check ads from political action committees, which don’t have to follow as many mandates or guidelines.     

“With each and every order we have to get research from both sides in that issue to try to find out what their factual basis is for the claims they are making because we can’t run false or misleading or defamatory advertising,” Leo Henning, a vice president and general manager with Nexstar Media Group, said. “But if it’s the candidate’s ad, and he’s making outlandish claims about his opponent, or her opponent, there’s nothing we’re allowed to do we can’t edit it.  We do a lot of research but we’re not a courtroom judge. We’re broadcasters. And what we try to do is our due diligence to make sure that no facts are being disputed.”

Keep in mind — a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 2010 opened up the door for unlimited political advertising by committees, corporations and unions. The court said any limits, like those placed on candidates in terms of campaign finance limits, would violate free speech.   

That’s why you’ll see so many ads, from people other than the candidates themselves, on KOLR10 and all broadcast stations as we move toward November.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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