FCC Chief Chides Broadcasters Who Oppose Political Ad Disclosure Plan

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski faced a lukewarm crowd at the National Assn. of Broadcasters as he addressed their convention Monday and tried to sway them on a plan to require that campaigns’ ad buying data be posted online. While he cited support of journalism deans and editorial boards, as well as the “common sense” of the digital age, Genachowski finished his remarks and then quickly bolted from the hall at the Las Vegas Convention Center without taking questions from station owners or the media. Here’s my story from today’s print Variety on what he said and why his appearances here are usually a source of friction.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski on Monday defended a plan to require stations to post information about candidates’ political ad buys online, saying that some of the critics are taking a stand “against technology, against transparency and against journalism.”

Speaking to the National Assn. of Broadcasters, Genachowski gave little indication that he would support softening the proposal in the wake of the org’s concerns that posting the data would give away rate information to competitors.

Stations are already required to disclose the information, but the public can usually access the records only by visiting their offices.

Posting the information online once a campaign has made an ad buy could shed light on election spending and strategy — valuable data, especially in the final weeks before voters go to the polls. Public interest groups say such disclosures could serve as something of a counterweight to the unprecedented spending among candidates and interest groups.

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