Many Stations Don’t Factcheck Super PAC Ads: Survey : CJR
Many local television stations do not consistently evaluate the accuracy of the political ads they air, according to survey results released Tuesday by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
As Annenberg director Kathleen Hall Jamieson acknowledged, the center’s study, released during a mini-conference at the National Press Club on factchecking and the 2012 election, is of limited utility: the data was collected via an opt-in survey of 206 U.S. TV station managers and executives, and, as such, the findings can’t really be generalized. Still, the study suggests that many station managers and executives are unclear about their rights and responsibilities when faced with a political ad that takes liberties with the truth—in particular, whether they can refuse to run certain questionable ads, or suggest edits, or otherwise factcheck the content before it airs.
At the conference, panelists revealed that some stations are already reporting ad space being reserved as far ahead as October. As one station manager told Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association and Foundation, “We’re running around with a bushel basket, trying to catch all the money that’s falling out of the sky.” (For an in-depth look at how this money gets distributed across the local TV industry, see this recent piece by CJR’s Erika Fry.)