Blog — Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Looks like lobbyists for the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) found some friends on the House Appropriations Committee. On a party line vote Wednesday, Republicans voted to block a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation requiring broadcast television stations to disclose political ad buyers online. While the ultimate fate of the legislation is unclear, this vote reminds us just how badly some members of Congress want to keep the public in the dark about who’s trying to influence votes.
CREW strongly supported the FCC’s recently passed rule that requires network affiliates to post online information about who funds political ads. While technically available in the file cabinets of each individual station, this information in reality is nearly impossible to access, at least not without the arduous and time-consuming process of walking into each station and rifling through reams of documents under the watchful eyes of a station supervisor. Converting these files into pdf documents posted online, as the FCC rule requires, would make them available to anyone with computer access, dramatically increasing transparency and accountability.
Opponents of the FCC provision, not surprisingly, relied on patently silly and long discredited arguments. Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), for example, claimed it was another case of the government meddling with the private sector and others claimed it will cost jobs. Never mind that the public owns these airwaves, or that there simply is no evidence to suggest the FCC’s rule would be anything close to a financial burden on broadcasters. The broadcasters are in fact swimming in hundreds of millions of dollars in ad revenue thanks to the campaign season, feckless campaign finance regulations, and court decisions unleashing the era of super PACs.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail in the reconciliation process. It’s time to bring public broadcasters into the 21st century and take some steps, no matter how modest, to stem the abuses unleashed by Citizens United.
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