During the 2012 elections it’s estimated that political parties, campaigns and their advocates (eg., Super PACs) will spend over $3 billion on television advertising. While stations are required to keep records of who’s purchasing what, transparency advocates have urged the FCC to require broadcasters to make that information easily available online (currently, any citizen can go the physical station and ask to see the paper documents).
In April, the FCC agreed despite opposition from broadcasters and issued new rules to make it so starting in July.
Now, however, Republican lawmakers are blocking implementation of the rules by refusing to allow funding for them.
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, R-Mo., chair of the financial services and general government subcommittee of the House appropriations committee, added language to an appropriations bill ordering that no funds to be used to implement the disclosure rule. The bill, which passed the subcommittee Wednesday, funds the FCC and other agencies for fiscal year 2013.
The move by Emerson adds another question mark to the process of creating an FCC website with political ad data. At a subcommittee hearing Wednesday, a Democratic amendment to remove the Emerson language was defeated on a party line vote.
ProPublica reports that Democrats will try to strip the language when the full appropriations committee considers the bill. Also fortunate, “Even if the measure to block the FCC from funding the political ad rule passes the House, it still has to get through the Democrat-controlled Senate and be signed by President Obama, whose administration has supported the transparency rule.”
Our backgrounder on political advertising and broadcaster transparency is here.