NYCLU Calls on FOX Station Not to Censor Candidate's Political Advertising

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
September 6, 2005 12:00 am

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September 7, 2005

NEW YORK — The New York Civil Liberties Union today initiated an investigation to determine whether the FOX television station WNYW/Channel 5 violated the “equal time” requirements of federal law by refusing to run advertising for Manhattan Borough President candidate Brian Ellner.

“The decision to reject this advertisement is clearly censorship based on content,” said Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the NYCLU. “If WNYW/Channel 5 has accepted political advertising from any other candidate for Manhattan Borough President, its refusal to run Ellner’s ad would be censorship in violation of federal law.”

A September 6, 2005 New York Times article indicated Ellner’s ad featured “[President] Bush’s face superimposed upon a middle-age man’s naked torso as Mr. Ellner says of the President that ‘the emperor has no clothes.'” Ellner’s campaign maintains WNYW/Channel 5 initially accepted the advertisement but subsequently rejected it on the basis that it is “disrespectful to the office of the President of the United States.”

The NYCLU is inspecting the station’s public files in an attempt to determine whether WNYW/Channel 5 has accepted any advertising for candidates running for Manhattan Borough President. If another candidate for the office has placed advertising on the station, the NYCLU will call on WNYW/Channel 5 to fulfill its equal opportunity obligation under federal law and accept Ellner’s ads without content-based censorship.

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