GOP drops fight over TV spending disclosures

House Republicans sought to block rule requiring stations to post info

House Republicans have dropped their effort to block a new FCC rule that requires that TV stations post political ad spending information online.

Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.), chairwoman of the House Financial Services and General Government subcommittee, instead introduced an amendment to an appropriations bill that calls for a General Accounting Office study of the rule’s impact. The committee approved the amendment unanimously.

Broadcasters opposed the FCC’s move to require online disclosure of details about spending in all races for public office, arguing that it will make it all the easier for station competitors to obtain ad rate information. The National Assn. of Broadcasters is challenging the agency’s move in a federal appellate court in Washington.

The FCC rule requires that network affiliates in the top 50 markets post the information online, with the requirement expected to go into effect by the fall. The information details the amount and price of ad time that a campaign or outside group buys. All stations will be required to post such information by 2014. Such information already is public, but stations usually make their files available only for review in their offices.

Democrats opposed the GOP effort to block the rule, arguing that it was an attempt to make information about election spending more difficult to find at a time when outside groups are pouring tens of millions of dollars into 2012 races.