An alternative plan to the FCC political file proposal floated by the Television Operators Caucus has gained support of broadcasters who are hoping for a compromise. It would require stations to regularly report who is buying political spots and how much they are paying.
In a last-ditch effort to head off new FCC rules requiring TV stations to post their entire political advertising online, broadcasters have rallied around an alternate plan that would require stations to regularly report who is buying political spots and how much they are paying.
The alternative was first proposed by the Television Operators Caucus, which comprises leading station groups.
A vote on the rules is scheduled for this Friday. At the NAB convention last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski made clear that he supports the staff proposal calling for stations to post all their political advertising data online. It’s “common sense,” he said.
Broadcasters object to the everything-goes-online proposal, arguing that it would costly to implement and that would disrupt their business giving rivals easy access to sensitive ad rate information.
A broader coalition of broadcasters, including NAB and the station groups of the Big Four networks and Univision, sent a letter to the FCC last Friday saying they all now supported the TOC plan, which it called a “win-win solution that provides transparency concerning political candidate spending while avoiding the anti-competitive impact of online disclosure of per-spot rate information.”
The letter also said that attorneys for all of the state broadcasters associations were advising the associations to get on board.
Under the alternate proposal, stations would upload in a format of their own choosing the following information:
- The name of the sponsor;
- The name of the candidate on whose behalf the political spots (or program material) were purchased (for candidate purchases);
- The office for which the candidate is running (for candidate purchases);
- The issue to which the communication refers (for BCRA issue ads);
- The entity that sponsored the spots (or program material), including the officers that it has identified;
- The name given to the spot by the sponsor (if and to the extent that a sponsor provides such a name);
- The total amount of the ad buy; and
- On an ongoing basis, the aggregate amount of money paid by the sponsor for spots (or program material) on the television station during the election window.
Stations would update the online political file with the following frequency:
- Generally, every other day, during the lowest unit charge period.
- Every day during the last seven days before the election.
- Outside the lowest unit charge period, once a week.