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Re: Political Ad time limits

--- Dave Faneuf <tklaundry@juno.com> wrote:
> I just glanced at the Inside Radio tease they send
> me and noticed that one of the headlines quoted a
> GOP Senator calling for time limits for political
> advertising.  South Dakota Republican Bill Napoli
> wants to limit political ads to 60 days prior to an
> election.  (SNIP)  For anyone who might question the
> constitutionality, as a layman I don't think it
> infringes on any rights it just sets limits.

The First Amendment was intended to give the widest
protection to political speech.  Free speech is not
about limits, it is about freedom.  I can't imagine
such a limit being found to be constitutional.  

Content regulation of speech must be narrowly tailored
to further a compelling government interest.  The
regulation you describe would be considered a content
regulation because it only applies to political
advertising.  You could argue that reducing the cost
of campaigns is a compelling interest, but the Supreme
Court rejected that argument in Buckley v. Valeo. 
Even if the Court changed its mind on that issue, a
ban on when someone can campaign is not narrowly
tailored to reducing the cost of campaigns.

Ignoring the constitutional argument such a limit
would also greatly favor incumbents -- who already
have significant advantages in our system.  The
incumbents will continue to get free coverage from the
media and challengers will struggle to get their
message out.

I would favor eliminating the lowest unit rate rules
that currently exist and the mandate that stations
must sell spots to federal candidates.  I see no
reason to subsidize candidates by giving them the
rates given to a station's best customers.  Also,
being a free speech purist, I favor the freedom of
station owners not to sell ads to candidates (or
anyoner else for that matter).  Those rules have been
challenged and the courts upheld them on the basis
that the Congress can regulate the use of the public
airwaves in ways not allowed for other media.  I
accept that argument but would favor Congress
repealing the law.

> I know
> in Lowell there is a city ordinance, that is
> enforced pretty well, that limits political law
> signs to within 28 days (maybe 21) of the
> preliminary or primary election.  

I haven't researched this issue directly.  Generally,
reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on
speech are allowed.  The limits you describe above may
fit that exception.  The Supreme Court has also
allowed bans on billboards for safety and estectic
reasons.  The rationale may also fit this case.

-- Dan Billings, Bowdoinham, Maine

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