Basic Disclosure Requirements for Print, Radio and Television Advertisements
Print media, radio, and television advertisements that are a reportable contribution, expenditure, independent expenditure, or electioneering communication must include a legend or statement disclosing certain information about the advertisement. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.39.
Please note: There is a specific exception in N.C.G.S. § 163-278.39(c) for advertisements sponsored by individuals who make independent expenditures of less than $1,000 in a political campaign.
The disclosure legend is only required for print media, radio, and television advertisements. North Carolina does not currently require disclosures on internet or social media advertisements. Defined in N.C.G.S. § 163-278.38Z(7), print media includes:
- Billboards (see definition in 08 NCAC 21 .0501)
- Newspaper Inserts
- Mass Mailings
- Outdoor Advertising Facilities
Effective December 1, 2021, a billboard is any sign, flat surface, or other display greater than 50 square feet. 08 NCAC 21 .0501. Yard signs, posters, and magnetic signs with a print area of equal to or less than 50 square feet do not require a disclosure legend. 08 NCAC 21 .0501 also clarifies that flags and banners are not billboards.
Contents of the Disclosure Legend
- The sponsor of the advertisement must be disclosed. The sponsor is the candidate, political committee, referendum committee, individual, or other entity that purchased the advertisement. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.38Z(10). The disclosure legend shall include the statement “Paid for by ___ [Name of candidate, candidate committee, political party organization, political action committee referendum committee, or individual].” N.C.G.S. § 163-278.39(a)(1).
- If sponsored by a political committee or referendum committee, the name in the “Paid for by ___” statement shall be the same name that appears on the committee’s Statement of Organization. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.39(a)(2).
- If an advertisement is jointly sponsored, the disclosure legend shall name all sponsors.
- If the print media advertisement supports or opposes one or more clearly identified candidates, the advertisement shall disclose whether the advertisement was authorized by any candidate. The disclosure legend shall state either "Authorized by [name of candidate], candidate for [name of office]" or "Not authorized by a candidate." An “Authorized by” statement is not required if the advertisement is sponsored by the candidate or candidate committee. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.39(a)(3).
- If the print media advertisement identifies a candidate the sponsor is opposing, the advertisement shall name the candidate who is intended to benefit from the advertisement. This subdivision applies only when the sponsor coordinates or consults about the advertisement or the expenditure for it with the candidate who is intended to benefit. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.39(a)(4).
Sample Disclosure Legend for a PAC
Paid for by Citizens for John Smith. Authorized by John Smith, candidate for City Council.
Size Requirements for Print Media Advertisements
- The height of the disclosure legend shall be at least five percent (5%) of the height of the printed space of the advertisement, however, the type shall be no less than 12-point font.
- In an advertisement in a newspaper or a newspaper insert, the disclosure legend may be less than five percent (5%) of the height of the advertisement so long as the type is no less than 28-point font.
- If a single advertisement consists of multiple pages, folds, or faces, the disclosure legend only needs to appear on one page, fold or face.
Size Requirements for Television Advertisements
- The visual disclosure legend shall constitute four percent (4%) of the vertical picture height.
- Where the television advertisement is paid for by a candidate or candidate committee, the visual disclosure legend shall appear simultaneously with an easily identifiable photograph of the candidate for at least two seconds.
- In a radio advertisement, the disclosure statement shall last at least two seconds. The statement shall be spoken so that its contents may be easily understood.