House GOP Moves To Block FCC Political Disclosure Rule

Language slipped into appropriations bill passes subcommittee

The new Federal Communications Commission rule requiring TV stations to move their political adertising files online may never see the light of day if the House GOP gets its way. GOP leaders on the House Appropriations Committee slipped language into the draft of a 2013 appropriations bill that would cut off any funds to implement the controverisal FCC order, which was passed in April.

The language has a good chance of surviving the full committee and the GOP-controlled House, but it could run aground in the Senate. A subcommittee chaired by Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) passed the draft budget during a mark-up session today.

The FCC's rule requires TV stations to move paper files containing advertising information for political ads—including who bought the ads and how much they paid for them—online. Broadcasters argued that by making the files easily accessible on the Internet, it changes the dynamics of the ad marketplace, placing them at a competitive disadvantage to other media and giving advertisers leverage to negotiate lower rates. The FCC argued it was just a common-sense update, and liberal public interest group Free Press blasted the House GOP language as evidence of broadcasters twisting the arms of the GOP. 

It's not secret that broadcasters fought hard against the rule. They even filed an appeal last month in federal court seeking review of the FCC rule. But an industry source says that the National Association of Broadcasters did not lobby for the language.