Date: October 16, 2019
To: Rice E Roni, Supervising Attorney, CARDWARE Inc.
From: Brenden Sensibaugh
I am writing you this memorandum to determine whether or not Cardigan’s First Amendment Freedom of Speech rights were infringed upon by the local television station WBLAH. WBLAH declined to air the commercial for the company. They stated that it was not appropriate for children to view it and cited the commercials content as the reason to not broadcast it.
The First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech provides citizens the right to express themselves without any restrictions. The amendment was enacted to protect freedom of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition (Massaro, 2015). This amendment was a necessary amendment to the constitution. It allows for citizens and companies to voice their opinion on certain issues. This amendment includes freedom of the press, this allows for people and companies to broadcast what they want to (Massaro, 2015).
Cardigan has the right to have their commercial aired. Their commercial was not going to cause unnecessary panic to the public and for this reason the First Amendment covers their right to run the advertisement. The advertisement had the potential to generate a large profit for Cardigan, due to WBLAH, this possibly has been lost. WBLAH has the power to deny running advertisements only if they have the potential to be misleading to the public or if the commercials are illegal in any fashion (Massaro, 2015). In support of Cardigan’s advertisement, they did not have any misleading information or illegal information, or activities displayed in their advertisement. The only thing the advertisement was portraying was the superior quality of the cloth the company is offering to the public.
The truthfulness of the advertisement is determined by the advertising agency and not the news station (Friendly, 2013). Since the news station doesn’t have the extensive knowledge on the company’s products, they are not able to make a determination on if the advertisement is true. WBLAH should be airing the advertisement since all the guidelines are being met. If WBLAH does not like the advertisement they cannot use this as a reason to justify not airing the advertisement (Shiffrin, 2014.)
The state of Nebraska advocates for the freedom of expression in the state’s constitution, article I-5 (Nebraska, 1875). State law allows for freedom of the press and to air what each company sees fit, within the applicable laws. In 1978 the Supreme Court sided with the FCC in the case, FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (Hudson, 2017). The Supreme Court decided that the FCC can censor certain broadcasts if they contain obscene language during the hours of 6 am to 10 pm. This case would mean that if the advertisement did contain material that is inappropriate for children it could not be aired in-between the times of 6 am to 10 pm. However, they could not refuse to air it all together like they have.
The First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech allows companies the right to develop their own advertisements as long as the companies are following the laws that are applicable to them. This amendment has also given the media freedom to broadcast the contents of commercials without any discrimination. Cardigan has the authority to create advertisements however they see fit for their company, in accordance with the law, which doesn’t allow for WBLAH to not air the advertisement.
If WBLAH is able to prove that something in the commercial involved or promoted illegal activity, they would have the authority to deny the broadcasting of the ad. After review of the advertisement I was unable to identify anything that portrayed or could possibly portray any illegal activity. It is in my opinion that the news station denied running the commercial due to their existing beliefs or opinions on the company.