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Court Will Reconsider Political Ads on Public TV Ruling

Nov. 22 (Bloomberg) -- A federal appeals court in California said it will review its ruling that a law banning political advertising on public television is unconstitutional.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled 2-1 in April that the government had no evidence to support its claim that allowing the stations to air public issue and political ads would harm their educational mission.

A majority of the court’s judges who voted decided to rehear the case, according to a court order yesterday. The court didn’t give a reason for the decision.

The case involves a lawsuit brought by Minority Television Project Inc., a California nonprofit group that operates the public television station KMTP. The station, based in Palo Alto, California, was fined by the Federal Communications Commission for violating the ban on public stations’ airing paid advertisements from corporations.

The station sued the FCC claiming the ban on ads violated its right to free speech. Public TV and radio stations have been barred from airing ads for or against political candidates, ads expressing views on topics of public interest, and ads for products placed by for-profit companies.

The case is Minority Television Project Inc. v. FCC, 09-17311, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at

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