In the voluntary-response survey of station managers, "Only 56 percent said they screen the accuracy of third-party ads," Justin Peters writes for Columbia Journalism Review. "And just 13 percent of the respondents said their stations had refused to air at least one third-party ad during the past 12 months." Our guess is that most of those who don't screen the ads didn't respond to the survey.
The study also "suggests that many station managers and executives are unclear about their rights and responsibilities when faced with a political ad that takes liberties with the truth—in particular, whether they can refuse to run certain questionable ads, or suggest edits, or otherwise factcheck the content before it airs," Peters reports.
Rejecting ads wouldn't necessarily cost money, because they can be quickly fixed, and there are likely to be more orders for ads than time stations will have to broadcast them. Panelists at the center's Washington event "revealed that some stations are already reporting ad space being reserved as far ahead as October," Peters writes. Mike Cavender, executive director of the Radio Television Digital News Association, said one station manager told him, “We’re running around with a bushel basket, trying to catch all the money that’s falling out of the sky.” (Read more)
Here's our view: Stations should check these ads for accuracy, and reject those that mislead. If they don't, local newspapers should point that out, in addition to doing their own fact-checking.