Do TV stations have to run anti-gay campaign ads?

It is on. Millions of dollars from anti-gay forces are pouring into Washington state and the Seattle television markets to spread lies about gay and lesbian marriage, and about what it means to be a supporter of rights for all.

It can be incredibly unsettling to be interrupted with these anti-gay ads while watching television with our families — especially for our community’s gay and lesbian families. In fact, the negative health effects of being bombarded with these lies on our community are daunting. Depression increases and the chance of suicide  rises — especially for our youth. Research shows that adults can even suffer from PTSD following an anti-gay barrage of attack ads during a campaign like this.

Television and radio stations are not required to air these harmful anti-gay ads. Contrary to popular belief, the FCC does not require equal airtime for issue based campaigns. Their rules only apply to candidates.

In 2009 during the referendum campaign to keep domestic partnerships, I interviewed an FCC Political attorney to clarify the issue for our local radio stations who thought they were required to air the misleading anti-gay ads:

<blockquote>I called the FCC and spoke to Mark Berlin an attorney in the Political Office of the FCC, about referendums and asked him whether the radio stations were required to air the reject 71 the ad. He said, “Our political rules are about candidates not referendums or initiatives. There are no equal time rules, so [the station] does not have to provide time at all if it doesn’t want to.” </blockquote>

The rules have not changed since 2009, so now our local television stations are profiting from ads that our misleading the community to oppose fundamental rights for gays and lesbians. The ads are complete falsehoods as Joel Connelly pointed out yesterday.

I know what our opponents will scream in the face of this blog, “See they’re trying to censor us!” No I am not. They can say anything they want. I may not like it, it may harm our young people, but if they want to lie about gays and lesbians to win a campaign they should otherwise lose, they have a first amendment right to make up whatever lie they want to.

Likewise, station owners have a right to free speech — and that includes choosing if they want to air the ads that are hurting their neighbors, employees, and family members. Imagine, if the campaign was to take away the right for KING 5 to broadcast television. Would they air the ads? Or what if the campaign was about returning to slavery? Would KCPQ  air the ad? What if the campaign was to remove the right of women to drive? Should KIRO 7 air the ad?

Long after this campaign is over, the out of state forces pouring millions of dollars into this state’s television stations will be gone. They will take their seemingly unlimited war chests to other states and air the exact same lies as they have since Proposition 8 in California. Our state and the health of our community will be left in the wake of their destructive ads.

KING 5, KIRO 7, KOMO 4, KCPQ 13 and state’s other television stations need to ask themselves, “Do we really want to profit from lies that hurt our gay and lesbian neighbors, family, friends, and colleagues? Are we that greedy? Or do we want to continue the otherwise positive relationship we have with this important member of our community for years to come?”

Give them a call to politely suggest they to stop profiting from the Reject 74 campaign’s lies:

KING 5 (206) 448-5555

KIRO 7 (206) 728-7777

KOMO 4 (206) 404-4000

KCPQ 13 (206)-674-1305

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