• Commencement of Lowest Unit Charge Period for 2010 General Elections
  • September 8, 2010
  • Law Firm: Lerman Senter PLLC - Washington Office
  • This weekend marks an important point for the 2010 general election to be held November 2, 2010.  During the 60 days preceding a general election, rates charged to “legally qualified candidates” for “uses” of the station in connection with the candidate’s campaign may not exceed the “lowest unit charge” (“LUC”) provided to the station’s most favored commercial advertisers for the same amount and class of time during the same time period.  This limitation applies to all legally qualified candidates to whom the station sells time for political purposes, not just to federal candidates.  However, LUC requirements do not apply to issue advertisements or spots placed by third-party committees that are not a candidate’s authorized committee.

    To qualify for a station’s LUC, federal candidates must provide a signed certification affirming that if any political advertisement authorized by the candidate makes a reference to another candidate for the same office, that advertisement will include a statement made by the candidate, identifying the candidate by name and by the office the candidate is seeking, and indicating that the candidate has approved the advertisement (commonly referred to as the “stand by your ad” requirement).  Similar requirements may be imposed by individual state laws, but compliance is not required in order to qualify a state or local candidate for LUC pricing.

    Some stations sell political advertising time on election day and others do not, as permitted by the FCC, which means that the commencement of the 60-day LUC period could vary by one day.  For purposes of consistency and to avoid confusion, we recommend that all stations consider beginning their 60-day LUC period on Friday, September 3, 2010, regardless of whether they accept political advertisements on election day.

    To the extent you have any questions regarding the lowest unit charge obligation, or other political advertising requirements, please note that we have prepared an interactive “webinar” that provides information about the various requirements applicable to candidate and issue ads, including political disclosure statements, calculating lowest unit charge, reasonable access, equal opportunities, and sponsorship identification.  The webinar lasts approximately one hour and encourages questions.  Your employees can participate in the webinar remotely from numerous locations via computer and telephone line.