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Defamation is when someone says false statements about another person publicly that will hurt that person’s reputation. For example, if someone said that you sold dog meat from your restaurant in a public forum and that caused you to lose business at your restaurant, then that is defamation. There are plenty of rules about what is and is not defamation in New York. One special case applies to the owners, licensees or operators of radio and television broadcasting stations.

The New York State Senate explains that the owner, licensee or operator of a radio or television broadcasting station and its employees are not liable for defamation for any statement made by a candidate for public office if not legally subject to censorship. In other words, if a radio owner cannot censor the statements of a candidate for public office and in those statements he or she is guilty of defamation, the owner holds no liability and neither do any employees involved in the broadcast.

Do note that the candidate must be a publicly announce candidate for nomination in an election at any level of government. In addition, the candidate must be legally allowed to hold the office for which he or she is running.

There is one rule — the owner of the station must ensure that before and after the broadcast that there is an announcement stating the opinions expressed by the candidate are not representative of the opinions of the broadcast station. This information is for education and is not legal advice.