Republicans Block FCC Campaign Ad Transparency Rule


The LA Times reports that Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee are moving to block the implementation of a new FCC rule that would require TV stations to make their records of political ad buys available online. That rule would make it much easier to track campaign spending leading up to elections.

An effort to require television stations to make records about political ad buys available online was blocked Thursday by Republicans on a House Appropriations Committee panel.

The proposal, which had cleared the Federal Communications Commission in April, would require TV stations affiliated with the four top networks in the 50 largest markets to post political ad sales records online. Stations are already required to make the records available to the public upon request, but most stations keep them in paper files, making it difficult to compile and track the information…

The House Appropriations Committee’s financial services subcommittee voted Thursday on a party-line vote to approve a funding bill that included a rider blocking the FCC from implementing its proposal.

Rep. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) had attempted unsuccessfully to strip the rider from the bill before the committee’s vote.

House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) argued that “television station fiscal matters are private and should be kept private.”

It’s not clear to me whether this actually blocks the rule, or would only do so if the bill it is attached to passes and is signed into law. I would think the latter is true, but it may be that there’s some oversight function by the subcommittee that allows them to block rules without the passage of a bill. Either way, it’s a bad idea. And Rogers’ argument is absurd. Those records are already available, they’re just a pain in the butt to compile. Putting them online allows far greater and easier transparency, but those records are already public, not private.

Here’s a video of a bunch of journalism students visiting local stations to dig up that information themselves. It was very difficult. And ironically, three of the four stations would not allow them to bring a videocamera into the stations to show how it’s done.

Comments

  1. roggg says

    Jebus…that’s one brazenly corrupt poilitical system you Americans have got yourself down there…

  2. says

    I know that it works, but I am endlessly amazed by the fact that anyone would take anything from a TV campaign ad seriously. It’s an amazing fact about our brains that we don’t immediately filter that stuff out as the unadulterated bullshit it almost certainly is.

  3. evilDoug says

    Headline:

    House Appropriations Committee Seeks to Block Public Scrutiny of Liberal Media

    It’s important to choose the words carefully.

  4. says

    that’s one brazenly corrupt poilitical system you Americans have got yourself down there…

    What do you mean!? We have the best political system money can buy!

  5. abb3w says

    Political obstructionism, meet crowdsourcing.

    The Internet regards censorship as damage, and routes around it.
    The Internet regards restrictions on data access as network congestion bottlenecks, and implements cache mirrors and other strategies to compensate?

    Welcome to the third millennium.

  6. Crip Dyke, MQ, Right Reverend Feminist FuckToy of Death & Her Handmaiden says

    It’s not clear to me whether this actually blocks the rule, or would only do so if the bill it is attached to passes and is signed into law. I would think the latter is true, but it may be that there’s some oversight function by the subcommittee that allows them to block rules without the passage of a bill

    You’re right in your instincts, Ed. This is a part of a bill. A bill has no force unless it becomes law. Riders are, essentially, amendments dealing with topics not actually covered in the main/original text of the bill. Sometimes they are entirely unrelated to the topic of the original bill. But “rider” is just another name for “amendment” while making it clear that it belongs to the subcategory of amendments not affecting the main actions or original intent of the bill.

  7. says

    Political obstructionism, meet crowdsourcing.

    The Internet regards censorship as damage, and routes around it.
    The Internet regards restrictions on data access as network congestion bottlenecks, and implements cache mirrors and other strategies to compensate?

    Welcome to the third millennium.

    I sure hope the crowd’s big enough, because we’ve got a lot of government and media to make transparent.

  8. John Hinkle says

    House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) argued that “television station fiscal matters are private and should be kept private.”

    But a woman’s reproductive matters are not private and should not be kept private, right? A logical entity, “television station”, should have more rights than a person. Okayyyyyy……

  9. Dennis N says

    The Internet regards censorship as damage, and routes around it.
    The Internet regards restrictions on data access as network congestion bottlenecks, and implements cache mirrors and other strategies to compensate?

    The problem is that the information is not already on the internet; it’s paper records. You have to physically travel to the station to get the information.

  10. abb3w says

    Dennis N:

    The problem is that the information is not already on the internet; it’s paper records.

    True… which is the point to the previous link.

  11. d cwilson says

    House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) argued that “television station fiscal matters are private and should be kept private.”

    Not if it’s part of a publicly traded corporation.

    But a woman’s reproductive matters are not private and should not be kept private, right? A logical entity, “television station”, should have more rights than a person. Okayyyyyy……

    If a woman wants her reproductive matters kept private, she should incorporate her uterus.

  12. Stacy says

    If a woman wants her reproductive matters kept private, she should incorporate her uterus

    Hey, now there’s an idea…

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