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Captain Steve says he won’t campaign for City Council on-air

BY ERIC MOORE | SEPTEMBER 01, 2011 7:20 AM

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Steve Soboroff, radio owner, host, and Iowa City City Council candidate, is welcoming competition and stressing nonpartisanship regarding to his station, KCJJ.

He said he does not plan to change his station’s programming during his candidacy and insists that he won’t campaign on his show.

“I’m not campaigning on local issues on the air, I’m not saying ‘vote for me,’ ” he said Soboroff. “If I do any campaigning on the air, I have to buy commercial advertising on my station myself.”

University of Iowa law lecturer Nicholas Johnson cited the 1934 Communications Act as a possible obstacle to Soboroff’s campaign. Johnson is also a former member of the Federal Communications Commission.

“It provides the broadcaster, if they put a candidate for public office on the air, they have to give equal opportunity,” said Johnson.

Soboroff says his station is considered a “news show” by the FCC and thus is exempt from the “equal time” rule, which has required interpretation by the FCC in numerous instances since its inception.

“Because we talk about the news, it’s exempt. But even though it is exempt, I am not complaining on [the show about other candidates], I am not asking anyone to vote for me, I am welcoming anyone to come in at any time and have their say, as much say as they want to,” said Soboroff.

Sharon Wright, an administrative staff member from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, echoed Soboroff’s statements.

“No rule or statute under our jurisdiction prevents a person who is a member of the local media from participating as a candidate for an election,” Wright wrote in an email. “Further, nothing would require him to cease his broadcast as long as he did not expressly advocate during that time.”

Soboroff’s status as a City Council candidate and radio host did not cause an issue the first time he ran, in 2003, an election in which he came in fourth.

“If I don’t get elected, my day will start off with the sunrise just like it always did,” he said. “I just think I can contribute; I don’t have an agenda.”


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