The graphic television ads created by Missy Reilly Smith, a GOP candidate for the District's congressional delegate seat, to generate interest in her long-shot campaign will probably start hitting television sets across the region this week.
But that doesn't mean the ads, which feature photographs of supposedly aborted fetuses, are suitable for YouTube.
To the dismay of local Republicans, who are distancing themselves from their nominee, Smith has reportedly bought airtime on the local networks as she tries to unseat Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) in the overwhelmingly Democratic District.
Despite the ads' controversial and grotesque content, local television stations say they have no choice but to show them because of federal regulations.
Jerry Fitz, a lawyer for Allbritton Communications, which owns WJLA (Channel 7), told Politico's Ben Smith on Friday that the "Communications Act requires broadcast stations to sell 'reasonable amounts' of ad time to qualified federal candidates and bars stations from making any changes to those spots, in what's known as the 'no censorship' provision. "
A spokesman for WRC (Channel 4) told The Washington Post's Mike DeBonis that federal regulations require it to show an ad it received from Smith. But WRC plans to air a message preceding the ad, warning viewers that it contains "extremely graphic images."
The ads are featured on Smith's Web site. On Friday, at least one the spots could also be located on YouTube. But YouTube has since yanked the ad.
"This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on shocking and disgusting content," the link to Smith's ad now states.
-- Tim Craig