Federal Communications Law Journal

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Publication Citation

53 Federal Communications Law Journal 161 (2000)


Section 312(a)(7) of the Communications Act of 1934 requires that broadcast stations provide legally qualified candidates for federal elective office with reasonable access to advertising time on behalf of their candidacies. The FCC has long struggled with defining "reasonable access." On September 7, 1999, the FCC issued a Memorandum Opinion and Order in which it ruled that broadcast stations may not refuse a request for political advertising time solely because the station does not sell or program such lengths of time. This ruling came in response to a petition for reconsideration of an October 3, 1994 Declaratory Ruling, filed by the Media Access Project and People for the American Way. That ruling-consistent with most Commission precedent-did not require broadcast stations to sell or furnish candidates time for political advertising in increments neither to sold commercial advertisers nor programmed during the one-year period preceding the election. Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth dissented from the Memorandum Opinion, arguing that the Commission should uphold its policy of requiring regulatory parity between candidates and advertisers with respect to time. His approach to reasonable access represents the most sensible employed by the FCC to date. This Note argues that the FCC should adopt Commissioner Furchtgott-Roth’s position on reasonable access.