Watchdog Attacks CA Radio Ads

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Public interest organization Consumer Watchdog would like appropriate officials in California to demand disclosure of the financial sources for issue ads, and is also asking radio stations to reject the ads.

CW said, ”The largest health insurance companies in California have contributed $37 million to defeat Proposition 45, but are hiding from voters in deceptive new campaign advertising that violates disclosure laws and should be pulled from the radio.”

The organization filed its complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission, and at the same time called on radio stations to reject any ads from the PAC that is placing them, No on 45.

They are further alerting California television stations, since they are believed to be next on No on 45’s media placement list.

“Health insurance companies know that they will not be able to stop Prop 45′s rate relief if the public knows it’s the companies funding the advertisements so they are trying every trick in the book to deceive voters, including an illegal one,” said Proposition 45 proponent and Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court.

RBR-TVBR observation: Here’s what watchdogs and regulators should not expect: Broadcasters are in the business of providing content to an audience and selling advertising to support that activity.

They are not in the business of enforcing rules and regulations pertaining to political advertising, which are further complicated by being inextricably bound to First Amendment concerns.

Any laws on the books regarding the content of political ads must be enforced by the appropriate agency. We believe broadcasters should expect to provide information to that agency if necessary, appropriate and (this next one is extremely important) legal, but beyond that, unless somebody comes along, gives them a badge, enforcement powers and appropriate compensation, their responsibilities in this area should go no further.

About The Author: Dave got his start in the broadcasting trades at Broadcasting and Cable and has been with RBR-TVBR in one capacity or another since 1992. After creating the RBR Source Guide and Directory, he moved over to the reporting side of the business just before the beginning of the new millennium.

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