This is very good news. The House committee that had voted previously to overrule a new FCC rule that requires TV stations to make their records of political campaign ad buys available online has withdrawn that amendment from the bill.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee withdrew a measure that would have prevented the Federal Communications Commission from carrying out its new rule requiring broadcasters to put political ad spending records online. Instead, the House adopted a new measure requiring the Government Accountability Office to study the issue.
The provision in the 2013 Financial Services bill removes an earlier measure that would have prevented the FCC from using federal funds to implement the online-posting rule. Broadcasters are already legally required to maintain data on political ad spending, but this information is currently maintained only in paper form at the TV stations themselves.
If signed into law, the draft appropriations bill would require the GAO to analyze the data kept by the FCC and the Federal Election Commission to determine whether there is any duplication of costs to maintain them. The GAO is also tasked with evaluating whether publicizing the information on political ads will have any impact on pricing throughout the market. The GAO study is not expected to delay implementation of the FCC’s rule.
This new rule will make it much easier to track campaign spending, especially ads taken out by SuperPACs, 527s and other third-party organizations.