NORTH CAROLINA–Newspapers and other media outlets which regularly publish or broadcast endorsements of political candidates or parties would be required to file campaign finance reports on the value of each editorial supporting a candidate under a bill filed in early March in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Steve Wood (R-Guilford), would require newspapers to assess the value of their endorsements by comparing them with the cost of a similarly placed commercial advertisement. Endorsements made by television and radio stations would be subject to price guidelines set in the federal Communications Act.
The bill, if enacted, would apply to elections conducted on or after December 1, 1995.
North Carolina Press Association attorney Katherine White said the bill would only apply to large newspapers and broadcast outlets, because campaign finance reports are required only in elections for offices with constituencies of more than 50,000 people.
White added that a fundamental question with the law lies in how an endorsement ultimately would affect a candidate. “Who counts (the endorsement) as an in-kind contribution?” White said. “The person who gets the endorsement or the one who doesn’t?” (H.B. 382)
The Reporters Committee regularly files friend-of-the-court briefs and its attorneys represent journalists and news organizations pro bono in court cases that involve First Amendment freedoms, the newsgathering rights of journalists and access to public information. Stay up-to-date on our work by signing up for our monthly newsletter and following us on Twitter or Instagram.