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Randall Terry has used campaign laws to circumvent networks' discretion.
WASHINGTON — An anti-abortion group in the United States is planning to air graphic advertisements of aborted fetuses during February’s Superbowl, according to Slate. The Superbowl, which is American football's championship game, is the most-watched television event in the US, with Superbowl 45 in 2011 drawing 111 million viewers.
While the ads would usually be barred by the networks due to their graphic content, Operation Rescue founder Randall Terry used a loophole in Federal Communications Commission laws that permits political advertisement for registered candidates in primary states. According to The Guardian:
[Terry] registered as a Democratic presidential candidate against Barack Obama in order to use a federal law that requires television stations to air political adverts uncensored within 45 days of a primary or general election.
In an appeal for donations, Terry said he had registered to run for president in 17 states, enough to expose his ads to “millions” of viewers. “And THAT, my friend, is what the babies deserve,” he said, according to the Guardian.
Slate reported details on the FCC loophole:
The FCC's Communications Act bars stations from censoring political ads from federal candidates during the 45 days before a primary election in that state. So far, he's aired ads in New Hampshire, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska, but obviously the Super Bowl would provide him a much larger platform.
Before the New Hampshire primary he spent several thousand dollars to air ads during shows like “The Office,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” and “30 Rock.”
The Boston-based Christian Science Monitor reported on the ads broadcast in their media market: “They include images of aborted fetuses, sometimes juxtaposed in startling ways with objects such as children’s toys and gravestones.” Many called into local stations to complain - or voice support.
But Terry has an uphill battle: a 30 second spot cost around $3 million in 2011, and his organization has yet to raise the funds. His current goal, according to the Guardian, is $100,000, far from enough to cover the cost of a spot.