National GOP group complains to FCC about WHAS-11 not airing ad

10/24/2010 06:21 PM

The National Republican Senatorial Committee filed an informal complaint with the agency that regulates broadcast stations saying that WHAS-11 in Louisville was the only station to pull one of its ads and did so without notifying the GOP group.

The NRSC filed a 24-page complaint document with the Federal Communications Commission late Friday and asked the FCC to “immediately demand and inspect” WHAS-11’s political file and seek action against the station. Click here to view the full NRSC complaint. An informal complaint is the first step for requesting an FCC review or investigation.

At issue is this ad the NRSC began airing last week that criticizes Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jack Conway over his past statements regarding federal environmental legislation:

The ad says Conway “supported” the so-called cap-and-trade proposal, in which pollution emissions would be capped and industries and electric utilities only could exceed those limits by swapping pollution credits.

Conway’s campaign sent letters to Kentucky broadcast stations on Oct. 18 threatening to sue for defamation unless the stations pulled the ads. He says he never supported that proposal.

WHAS-11 pulled the ad off the air on Oct. 19 without providing the NRSC with notification or reasons, according to the complaint.

“Considering the fact that 25 other TV stations in Kentucky are running this factually accurate ad, it certainly begs the questions: Why is this station going to such great lengths to protect Jack Conway and President Obama?” said the statement from Amber Marchand, NRSC’s spokeswoman.

Mark Pimentel, general manager for WHAS-11, declined to comment on decision to pull the ad.

But Pimentel told the Talking Points Memo blog on Oct. 19 that “the ad was pulled based on the document both sources provided.”

“The Republicans offered a second sourcing when the first failed to convince us, but that failed as well as it contained no quotes from Jack Conway that proved their point,” Pimentel told the liberal-leaning blog.

The NRSC ad based the ads claims on Kentucky media coverage of a U.S. House bill in July 2009 that would have set up a cap-and-trade system. Conway’s campaign issued a vaguely-worded statement that said he approved of  the approach with some caveats and favored some of the changes the House made to the original version of the that legislation, the Waxman-Markey bill.

The NRSC has cited articles written by the Louisville Courier-Journal’s Joe Gerth and the Paducah Sun’s Bill Bartlelman.

Since that time, Conway has insisted he opposes cap-and-trade because he said it would hurt Kentucky’s coal industry.

Conway’s Democratic primary opponent, Lt. Gov. Daniel Mongiardo, also criticized Conway for his initial reaction to the House’s passage of the Waxman-Markey bill.

- Ryan Alessi


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