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House Republicans Won’t Fight FCC Political Ad Disclosure Rule

U.S House Republicans dropped plans to try to stand in the way of a government regulation requiring television stations to publish online the details of political-advertising purchases.

The House Appropriations Committee today agreed to delete provisions targeting that rule from a spending bill that would provide $323 million in funding for the Federal Communications Commission in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

The effort to block the regulation had come under fire from watchdog groups as well as some Democrats who said Republicans wanted to make it harder for the public to learn who’s buying campaign ads.

Committee Chairman Hal Rogers said it was a pointless fight.

“The bill likely will not be passed before the election anyway so it is sort of a moot requirement,” the Kentucky Republican said.

The panel instead agreed to ask the Government Accountability Office to study the rule’s impact on television stations.

The FCC rule, issued in April, is designed to make the records of political ads now kept on paper at television station offices more readily accessible to the public.

“Democrats have fought to ensure our campaigns are fairer, our politics is more open, and our elections are conducted on a level playing field,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat. “For a brief moment, Republicans saw the light, and as a result, America’s voters will benefit from increased accountability.”

Television broadcasters must disclose details on a public website of political advertising purchases, including rates paid, under rules approved by the FCC on April 27. The requirement will apply initially to 200 stations that are affiliates of the four largest U.S. networks.

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