North Central Floridians watching a local morning show before heading to work, catching a soap opera or game show rerun at lunch and coming home to relax with the evening news or a sitcom before going to bed may have seen something they shouldn’t have.
An ad for State Representative Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) has continued running this week despite the University of Florida athletic department’s request that the campaign stop airing the ad.
The University Athletic Association objected to a two-second, unauthorized appearance by University of Florida mascot Albert the Alligator with Perry and his daughters. Despite the association asking the campaign to remove the ad and the campaign taking the ad off YouTube last week, the ad continued to run on local television.
Gainesville Television News and WCJB TV-20, the Gainesville ABC television station, confirmed the ad was pulled from their stations and replaced with another Perry commercial.
The ad stopped airing on TV-20 and WOGX-Fox 51, the Ocala and Gainesville Fox television station, by Wednesday, according to the stations’ ad schedules.
After the athletic association told the campaign Oct. 26 to stop the ad, Fox 51 aired the ad 37 times from Saturday to Wednesday. The ad aired 15 times almost hourly on Tuesday from 4:59 a.m. to 11:11 p.m., according to the station’s ad schedule.
TV20 aired the ad 19 times, including seven airings on Tuesday from 5:52 a.m. to 11:54 p.m., according to the station’s ad schedule.
Alan Chatman, TV-20’s general sales manager, blamed the ad’s continued airing on a slow process. Perry’s campaign contacted its ad agency, which contacts the national station, which then contacts the Gainesville station to approve the ad’s removal.
He said the time taken by the election’s end and the weekend hurricane slowed the process further.
“It takes a while to get through the process,” Chatman said. “There’s a lot of different hands involved.”
He said even though the ad had a legal issue, he was hesitant to pull the ad because of the political advertising guidelines made by the Federal Communications Commission, the independent U.S. government agency that regulates national and international broadcasting.
The guidelines say stations showing candidate-approved ads cannot pull the ads because of the content. That would be considered censorship.
Chatman said he would have immediately pulled the ad if it were not a campaign ad. He said violation of the athletic association’s copyright sometimes happens with local businesses promoting themselves through university-related images without permission.
“We’re under quite a microscope,” Chatman said. “And that’s why we do everything by the book.”
The Perry campaign did not return two phone calls and an email.
SRH Media, the company that bought airtime for the ad, did not return a phone call and email.
Martin Salamone, the association’s assistant athletics director for marketing and promotions, said the association is still trying to find out why the ad continued airing.
He said he understood communication between the association and the campaign was slow with election day four days away.
“I’m sure they’re busy,” Salamone said. “But that doesn’t take away from the fact they’re using an image illegally.”