Pol ad discount bill bites dust

Package failing to gain enough votes to proceed to Senate

WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill again spared broadcasters Monday from having to offer across-the-board discounts to federal candidates buying airtime for political ads.

Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) had hoped to attach the discount provision to legislation reforming the country’s election laws.

The overall reform package, however, was withdrawn in the evening after failing to get enough votes to proceed in the Senate. That means Torricelli won’t be able to use it as a vehicle for the political ad discount.

Last month, the House of Representatives struck the same discount proposal when passing separate legislation changing the way political money is raised.

The National Assn. of Broadcasters has waged an intense lobbying campaign to kill the across-the-board discount, with the trade org saying it could cost TV stations millions of dollars in needed ad revenues.

Federal law already requires broadcasters to offer candidates a discount, but the rates can vary depending upon the timeslot and whether a candidate is willing to have an ad preempted.

Torricelli has argued that his proposal merely closes a loophole in the law; the NAB says it would amount to a giveaway to candidates.

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