While lawyers dismantle many restrictions on political money, the ones affecting Morning Edition and Downton Abbey still stand tall. A federal court in San Francisco says public radio and TV stations cannot carry paid political ads.
The 8-3 decision Monday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a ruling last April by a smaller panel of the court. NPR and PBS both joined the case as friends of the court.
The court upheld the decades-old bar against political ads on public broadcasting stations, even as other restrictions have vanished over the years. One long-gone rule held that funders could only be listed by name.
The case just decided – Minority Television Project v. FCC – began as a bid to take any commercial advertising. Among the arguments rejected by the appeals court, the TV station invoked the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling of 2010, which allowed corporations to spend freely advocating for or against candidates.
Two dissenting judges argued that the station didn’t get a fair shake because “judges like public radio and television, while pretty much nobody likes commercials.”