When it comes to political ads, TV stations want to sell them by the boatload. What they don't want, is to be featured in the ads.
Scripps KNXV in Phoenix has news talent and the station's video used in a number of political ads that are running on local television in Phoenix.
Many of the ads that feature KNXV are an attack on Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu in what's expected to be one of the hottest congressional races leading up to November.
The station took to their website to try an explain why their content is being used in political ads and there is nothing the station can do about it.
The station writes, section 107 of US copyright law makes it legal for a number of groups to use copyrighted material without the copyright holder's consent. In other words, the Democratic Party (and the Republican Party) can use portions of our newscasts without having to ask.
The legal term for this is called "fair use" and it's a provision of the law that we, as journalists, use almost daily in our reporting. We may use a movie clip, a chunk of a TV show or YouTube video, or yes, even a political ad in a news story, without asking permission.
"Fair use" allows this for the purpose of comment and criticism and news reporting, and for other non-commercial uses such as education and research. Political campaigns are included as well.
Why don't we just pull the ads or refuse to air them? FCC regulations require us to run political advertisements provided by candidates for federal offices. The rules are clear: We have to provide reasonable access, equal opportunity access, and we have to do so at the "lowest unit rate." In other words, we have to accept the ads from all parties, and we have to give them the best price we offer. It's a condition of our FCC licensing.
We understand that this use of our newscasts by political campaigns can be confusing, and that's why we've taken the time to write this article and explain what's happening.