Justice Dept. asks Ninth Circuit to reconsider pubcasting ad decision

The U.S. Department of Justice is asking the Ninth Circuit Court to reconsider its April decision that a federal law banning public television and radio stations from running political advertising was unconstitutional.

In its June 29 filing, the Justice Department argued that the finding “threatens the fundamental nature of public broadcasting.”

In Minority Television Project v. FCC, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit voted 2-1 to overturn the ban in the case brought by the longtime licensee of noncommercial San Francisco station KMTP-TV (Current, April 23).

The Justice Department’s appeal to the full court argues that that the panel majority “applied erroneous legal standards and misinterpreted the record” to reach their conclusion.

“Federal law has consistently precluded public television licensees from airing paid advertisements,” the Justice Department’s filing contends. “The reasons for this are straightforward and uncontested: public broadcasters provide educational programming (particularly high-quality children’s programming) that is not available on commercial stations and subjecting public stations to advertisers’ market pressures would undermine their ability to provide such programming.”

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