Political ads tell the story

Like a good photograph, television political ads tell a story – about the candidates seeking office, their supporters, their opponents, the campaigns and the political process.

We've asked each individual or group advertising on WRAL-TV in this election year for permission to post their ads online so voters can see the evolution of the message all in one place.

We'll tell you what individual or group purchased each ad and when it will air on WRAL-TV.

  Ron Elmer for NC Treasurer Ron Elmer for NC Treasurer
Purchased by: Citizens for Elmer
Run dates: April 28-until further notice
Bob Etheridge ad "Today" Ad: Today
Purchased by: Bob Etheridge for Governor
Run dates: April 28-until further notice

  Bob Etheridge ad Ad: Real Progress
Purchased by: Bob Etheridge for Governor
Run dates: April 27-until further notice

Consequences ad Ad: Consequences
Purchased by: Coalition to Protect NC Families
Run dates: April 23-until further notice
Melissa ad Ad: Melissa
Purchased by: Coalition to Protect NC Families
Run dates: April 23-until further notice
 
Vote for Marriage NC Ad: Our Turn
Purchased by: Vote for Marriage NC
Run dates: April 23-May 6
Dental ad screengrab Ad: Pay Attention
Purchased by: Alliance for Access to Dental Care
Run dates: April 9-15; April 23-29
Tony Gurley ad screengrab Ad: Tony Gurley for Lt. Governor
Purchased by: Tony Gurley
Run dates: April 3-May 8
 
 
 
 

 

What is the law regarding televised political advertisements?

Broadcasters are governed by rules set forth by the Federal Communications Commission. FCC rules are generally designed to ensure candidates receive equal treatment both in terms of advertising and political news coverage.

Special rules apply to campaign ads

Special rules apply to ads bought by “legally qualified” candidates for public office in the 45 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

In most cases, candidates must be charged the station's “most favorable” – meaning least expensive – rate during that period.

Stations must also provide "reasonable access" to all candidates for federal office, and, when it comes to advertising sales, must treat all candidates running for the same office alike.  

Other political ads are more expensive

Many ads seen as “political” are not aired by candidates or their campaigns. For example, issue ads don’t contain certain phrases such as “vote for” or “oppose.” Other ads aired by independent political groups do directly attack or support candidates. Television stations do not have to give these ads any preferential rates, so generally they are more expensive than those bought by candidates and campaigns.

Laws have changed since 2008

The biggest changes since the 2008 election have been brought about by court decisions.

One decision, Citizens United, gives corporations and unions the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money on campaigns. Another decision created so-called Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited amounts on behalf of candidates. Taken together, those decisions mean more players will be putting more money toward political causes than ever before.

 

 
 

Political ads in the news