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FCC moves to expand online public, political files requirement to Radio

The FCC last week issued a public notice seeking comments on potentially expanding the current requirement that TV broadcasters post their public and political files online to Radio stations, as well as Pay-TV services.                                                                         

Reacting to a petition from three Washington, DC-based interest groups focused on providing more transparency of political fundraising and campaign spending, the commission asked for comments by Aug. 28 and reply comments just 10 days later on Sept. 8.

The move has been anticipated since the current rule took effect Aug. 2, 2012.  In a press release announcing the regulatory expansion last week, the FCC claimed it initially decided to apply the rule only to broadcast TV stations to “ease the initial implementation of the online public file.”

The rule was prompted by the Citizens United court ruling that lifted restrictions on corporate spending on political campaigns and gave rise to a raft of “dark-money” political groups that do not have to disclose their donors.

Rather than address concerns about the transparency of political donations and spending within the Federal Elections Commission’s regulatory regime, the Obama Administration foisted the disclosure requirement on broadcasters via the FCC after Congress failed to reach agreement on preserving some measure of disclosure after the court issued its ruling.

The FCC rejected an industry proposal that still would have campaign spending on TV stations but kept specific pricing schedules confidential. Currently, only TV broadcasters’ otherwise proprietary pricing information is exposed online for all the world to see.

TAB’s federal regulatory counsel, Scott Flick with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, provides more insight on the proposal in his latest advisory.

Questions? Contact TAB's Oscar Rodriguez or call (512) 322-9944.

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