Radio and television stations operate under federal license,
subject to conditions imposed by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission.
Stations must provide reasonable access to their airtime by candidates for
federal office,1 and that stations have no power of censorship over
any material broadcast by a candidate.2 The station
broadcasting the material cannot require the candidate to edit or change the
material for broadcast and cannot restrict the time of day when political
advertising may be aired.
Even though material broadcast by a candidate may be
libelous, inflammatory, or offensive to some viewers, the United States Supreme
Court has ruled that permitting a station to censor such material would
undermine the law. 3
1 47 U.S.C. §312(a)(7).
2 47 U.S.C. §315(a).
3Farmers Educ. & Coop. Union of Am. v.
WDAY, Inc., 360 U.S. 525 (1959).