Randall Terry campaign legally airs graphic ads in WV - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Randall Terry campaign legally airs graphic ads in WV

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Campaign season advertisements make a lot of people groan, and a new round of them from Independent candidate for President, Randall Terry, are causing a different reaction.

Terry is registered to run in West Virginia, and because he is a federal candidate, his ads can run in the states where he is on the ballot uncensored and unedited.

"Third-party ads, we're not required to run," explained Michele Crist, executive director of the West Virginia Broadcasters Association. "When it comes to federal ads, when they are registered in this state, we are mandated.

"It is very cut and dry."

David Allen Barnette, general counsel to the WVBA and partner at Jackson Kelly PLLC said stations licensed by the Federal Communications Commission are obligated to run federal ads. He said Terry's largest advertising purchase in West Virginia was for seven spots, and the smallest buys were for only one ad.

"The ad is terrible," Barnette said. "It shows, among other things, an aborted fetus, a dismembered child, and quite frankly, if it were up to the stations, we wouldn't run it, but we're confronted with three options."

Barnette said stations could run the ads just like any other political advertisements, run it with what's called a "front card," and a "tail card," with information on a graphic before and after the ad or the third option stations in West Virginia took, which was to run the advertisements with a warning before it, advising viewers that the ad should not be viewed by children, and the station is required to air it. That option was recommended by the FCC.

"Randall Terry has previously tried to run an ad in the Super Bowl in Chicago on local stations," Barnette said. "Terry has a history of running grotesque ads, using the federal laws to convey his anti-abortion, pro-life message, but this is the first time I've seen these kinds of ads in West Virginia."

Barnette said he's been advising stations for about 30 years, and while the risk for inappropriate ads is always present, he said this is the first experience he's had with an ad at the federal level that was wholly inappropriate.

The Federal Elections Commission only regulates that statements be placed on public communication that identifies who paid for the communication and who authorized the communication, if it's applicable.

"The FEC does not regulate that content of the communication for issues of sensitivity or appropriateness," said Christian Hilland with the FEC.

Barnette said stations are not liable for ads by candidates themselves, but they are liable for ads from third parties.

"It's a painful time, frankly, for TV general managers, because they certainly can be sued over inappropriate advertising," Barnette said. "It's very difficult for them to sort out these kinds of claims, and difficult for us to advise them."

According to a Terry campaign email, he is on the ballot in West Virginia, Kentucky and Nebraska. 

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