Attack ads get personal with measure

Senate provision applies to FCC discount rule

WASHINGTON — Broadcasters got more airtime in the campaign finance wars Thursday, with the U.S. Senate passing a measure that would require candidates to personally appear in any attack ads.

The provision applies if candidates want to take advantage of an FCC rule requiring stations and nets to offer politicos discounted rates. If they want anonymous acrimony, the measure says, let them pay the big bucks.

Thursday’s amendment to the larger campaign finance reform measure consuming Congress this week came one day after senators approved a measure requiring that broadcasters adhere more closely to the FCC rules regarding discounted rates.

Lawmakers maintain that by going around the rule and driving up rates, broadcasters are to blame for the exorbitant cost of running for office.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters claims the charge is without merit and that an across-the-board discount would merely mean more ads, not a lowering in fund-raising drives.

Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, the House Budget Committee denied President Bush’s request that broadcasters pay a squatter’s fee during the transition from analog to digital. Measure was part of Bush’s budget for fiscal year 2002.

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