October 18, 2012



And we’re not talking nickels and dimes. Broadcasters are raking in billions of dollars from airing thousands of political ads from Super PACs and other outside groups. And way too many of these ads are dishonest.1 
So what do broadcasters give viewers in return? Nothing. They have done virtually no fact-checking of the claims made in political ads. To make matters worse, broadcasters have continued to run ads that they know are misleading.2
Stations are legally obligated to run ads from candidates regardless of whether those ads are true or not. But broadcasters are allowed to reject deceptive ads from Super PACs and other outside groups. The problem is that few stations do.
Free Press analyzed TV stations in six battleground markets to see if they covered political ads in any meaningful way. We found that stations are getting rich from these ads — but are failing to investigate the groups buying airtime. In Denver, for example, there were 162 minutes of political ads from third-party groups for every minute of related news coverage.
Our investigation has already had an impact in Tampa, where a local station manager admitted that stations should do more fact-checking.3
But it’s a different story in Las Vegas, where stations are cutting time out of their newscasts just so they can air more political ads.4
We’ll deliver your message to to the general managers of the ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC affiliates in the top 50 media markets. 
Election Day is just around the corner and local stations are getting richer by the minute. We must hold broadcasters accountable for airing ads that mislead voters. Join us by taking action today.