House panel moves to strike TV political ad posting


Democrat and RepublicanThe FCC has made the posting of sensitive political advertising information part of its online public file rulemaking for broadcast TV. NAB has gone to court to stop the political ad part, and now the House Appropriations Committee has fired a shot at the provision.

Language was inserted in a bill on Financial Services spending that would strike the online political disclosure portion of the FCC’s proposal. Efforts by Democrats to remove the language failed on a party line vote, according to The Hill.

Democrats are trying to restore transparency and accountability to the political advertising process, much of which was undone by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

However, television broadcasters have argued that the effort is patently unfair since it does not make similar requirements of its many competitors.

Corie Wright of Watchdog Free Press said the introduction of the provision was a sign of broadcast influence on Capitol Hill. “Some members of Congress, working at the behest of the broadcast industry, want to keep the public in the dark. The FCC’s online political file rules will shine a brighter light on the political ads that have inundated local airwaves this year. It’s clear that the broadcast industry is pulling out all the stops to bury information about political ad spending on the public airwaves. What’s more appalling is that some elected officials are willing to help them do it.”

RBR-TVBR observation: We suspect that most if not all media companies would like to avoid posting this kind of information online. So of course television broadcasters are going to fight like hell not to be the only medium facing this onerous requirement.

This type of disclosure should come from the spenders, not the venues – and it should be collected by the FEC, not the FCC.

You can favor more disclosure, or no disclosure, or something in between, but we don’t see how it is possible to support disclosure for one medium while ignoring all others. It just doesn’t make sense.