FCC: TV stations must post rates for campaign ads

Associated Press Modified: April 27, 2012 at 4:31 pm •  Published: April 27, 2012
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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission voted Friday to require broadcast TV stations to post online the advertising rates they charge political candidates and advocacy groups.

The vote came despite strong opposition from many broadcasters, who have argued that making sensitive advertising rate information so publically available will undermine stations' competitiveness and give advertisers unfair leverage over how much they are willing to pay. A coalition of broadcasters put forth a compromise plan that would have required TV stations to put public files online while shielding information about political spending.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski rejected the compromise, noting stations already make available paper records of what they charge political advertisers. He said there was no reason such information should be "stuck in a filing cabinet" in an online world.

Genachowski and another Democratic commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, voted in favor of the new disclosure rules. Commissioner Robert McDowell, a Republican, voted in favor of an overall measure requiring stations to move their public files online but dissented on disclosing the political file.

The National Association of Broadcasters, a lobbying group that represents television stations, criticized the vote.

"By forcing broadcasters to be the only medium to disclose on the Internet our political advertising rates, the FCC jeopardizes the competitive standing of stations," NAB executive vice president Dennis Wharton said in a statement.

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