Political-ad rules stymie panel

WASHINGTON — The four sitting FCC commissioners failed to resolve their differences over rules for TV political attack ads and political editorializing.

Broadcasters want the Federal Communications Commission to throw out the current rules giving political candidates free airtime if their opponents are endorsed by a TV station. Under the personal attack rule, a politician is eligible for free airtime if the attack is made outside the context of a regular news show.

FCC chairman Reed Hundt and commissioner Susan Ness wanted to keep the rules in place, while commissioners Rachelle Chong and James Quello wanted to take them off the books. The 2-2 deadlock leaves the issue to be resolved by future commissioners.

This fall, the Senate is expected to confirm replacements for Quello, Chong and Hundt.

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