Public TV and Radio Cannot Ban Politcal Advertising
The longtime ban against political advertisements in public television and radio is unconstitutional, the 9th Circuit ruled Thursday.
A divided panel struck down the prohibition but said public stations can continue to forbid for-profit companies from buying air time. Judge Richard Paez warned, however, that the move could bring about the end of public broadcasting.
“For almost sixty years, noncommercial public broadcasters have been effectively insulated from the lure of paid advertising,” Paez’s dissent states. “The court’s judgment will disrupt this policy and could jeopardize the future of public broadcasting. I am not persuaded that the First Amendment mandates such an outcome.”
His colleagues on the three-judge panel found no evidence that political ads would necessarily degrade the government’s interest in preserving educational programming.
“There is no evidence in the record - much less evidence which was in the record before Congress - to support Congress’s specific determination that public issue and political advertisements impact the programming decisions of public broadcast stations to a degree that justifies the comprehensive advertising restriction at issue here,” Judge Carlos Bea wrote for the majority (emphasis in original).