Electoral funding transparency wins one

Last April the FCC voted to make the nation’s biggest TV stations post political ad buyer data available online. So, the National Association of Broadcasters and their House allies promptly threatened to block the rules in the currently debated 2013 FCC appropriations bill.

But something strange happened: the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee dropped an amendment that would have blocked funding for enforcement of the rule, substituting a tepid demand that the GAO study the financial effects of enforcement.

The entire battle is a strange one, though. A longtime FCC rule required that the data on political ads be available to the public, but prior to this change you had to physically go down to the TV station office and copy it. Now, it must be filed online with the Federal Trade Commission, which has jurisdiction over advertising. Big deal, but the NAB claimed it would present a crushing financial burden. Apparently, the conservative ideological objections ran into the absurdity of the NAB’s claim and they backed off.

Nobody thinks this is the end of the battle, but it’s certainly a positive step.

FCC's Rules for Ad Spend Disclosure Not Blocked! It's a Win for Transparency and Democracy. (Forbes, Jun. 20, 2102)

House GOP reverses position, won’t block FCC political ad rule (The Hill, Jun. 20, 2012)