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From the Desk of President Neil Best: May 2012


Dear Friends,

You may have heard or seen in recent reports that a U.S. Appeals Court has struck down a ban on political ads on public radio and television stations.

The inference unfortunately at least in several online messages that have been forwarded to me, is that nasty political ads are just around the corner on stations like KUNC.

Bluntly the messages I have seen are using only a part of this news story to further their own agendas while trying to enhance their fundraising appeal. Please step back with me as we sort out what has happened and how it is (or isn’t) impacting KUNC.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in a case originally filed nearly a decade ago that found unconstitutional the Communications Act prohibition on the broadcast of paid political and issue advertisements by noncommercial educational stations, including public broadcasters.

This ruling only applies to states within the 9th Circuit—Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The decision is subject to further review. The bottom line is this ruling doesn’t apply to the entire country and it is quite likely not a settled issue.

It is very important to note that the decision doesn’t compel non-commercial stations to accept political or opinion ads. Local stations retain editorial discretion to accept or reject funding and sponsor acknowledgements as they see fit.

Regarding KUNC, we have had a policy in place for well over a decade that states very clearly: political underwriting is not accepted. There is nothing in the recent court ruling that will change that.

What does that mean to you? That in the coming months of the political campaign you are free to tune in for information based reporting on the issues and candidates that will be on the election ballot this fall. I would add that as you tune in for the extraordinary reporting you hear from the KUNC newsroom, NPR, PRI and APM you will not be hearing any political ads. Enjoy!

Warm Regards,

President & CEO

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