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Local 5 - weareiowa.com | Des Moines Local News & Weather | Des Moines, Iowa

Here's why television stations run political ads, even if they're misleading or offensive

When it comes to airing political ads on TV, stations do not have a lot of authority to turn down or remove them.

With less than 100 days to the 2020 election, political ads are flooding the airwaves, including on Local 5.

But even though they can be repetitive, and sometimes misleading, stations do not have a lot of options.

"They have to take that ad, and the network is not liable for airing that even if it’s potentially slanderous or libelous,” explains Joseph Watson, Professor of Public Affairs Communications, Advertising & Public Relations at the University of Georgia's Grady School of Journalism.

Federal Communications Law mandates that stations give federal candidates for office "reasonable access" to air time for advertisements.

Stations can, however, reject ads that violate federal obscenity laws.

Ads from third-party organizations like Political Action Committees can be denied as well, but not ads from candidates themselves.