Political-Ad Rule to Go Into Effect in AugustBy Juliana Gruenwald | Tuesday, July 3, 2012 | 4:07 p.m.
The Federal Communications Commission said on Tuesday that a new rule requiring broadcasters to post information online about political-ad spending will go into effect on Aug. 2.
The rule, which the FCC adopted in April, requires television stations to post information about how much political candidates spend on ads. Television stations are currently required to make such information public, but it is only available on paper at the stations themselves. The new FCC rule requires that the information be posted to a central FCC-hosted online database.
Supporters of the rule argue that it will help make political spending more transparent and will make information that broadcasters are already required to provide more accessible to the public. “The order modernizes the filing process, making it easier for consumers to access information about their broadcast services without having to travel to the station’s main studio,” the commission said in a statement on Tuesday.
Broadcasters oppose the rule because they say it will put them at a competitive disadvantage by requiring TV stations--and not satellite or cable operators-- to post confidential information about the rates that stations charge candidates. Broadcasters offered to provide information online about how much candidates spend on ads without revealing ad-rate information, but the FCC rejected the compromise.
The National Association of Broadcasters went to court in May to try to block the rule and has tried to enlist the help of Congress. A House Appropriations subcommittee included a provision in its version of its fiscal 2013 spending bill that funds the FCC that would have blocked the commission from implementing the rule.
The provision, however, was dropped during consideration of the spending bill by the full Appropriations Committee last month. Instead, the panel adopted an amendment that calls for the Government Accountability Office to study the rule's implementation.