Broadcast Groups Pitch Chairman On Political File Compromise
Last-ditch effort to put aggregated ad totals online instead of individual ad buys
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/19/2012 10:45:27 AM
That is according to an ex parte filing with the commission about a series of meetings on the issue.
The proposal was pitched earlier this year by Barrington Broadcasting Co., Belo Corp, Cox Media Group, Dispatch Broadcast Group, The E.W. Scripps Company, Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television, Meredith Broadcasting Group, Post-Newsweek, Stations, Raycom Media and Schurz Communications, as a win-win alternative to the FCC's proposal of putting individual spot prices online, which broadcasters strongly oppose.
Attorney Jonathan Blake, representing the broadcasters, told the commission other broadcast groups had signaled they would be willing to support the compromise proposal.
Broadcasters argue that political ad buyers who want to make sure they are getting the lowest unit rate can get spot information in local files, and that to put them online "immediately and worldwide" would have anticompetitive and disruptive effects. Broadcasters are concerned about giving up sensitive pricing information in such a manner when their is not similar obligation for tis cable and satellite and Internet and print competition for political ads in the online political posting portion of the disclosure item teed up for an April 27 vote by the commission.
"Posting commercially sensitive rate information online, and making it instantly and easily available to advertisers and to other stations, would affect the broadcast advertising marketplace," said Belo President Dunia Shive.
In a separate meeting, Scripps President Richard Boehne told Genachowski that putting political files on line would definitely disadvantage broadcasters versus their competitors in the market.
Blake also argued that an aggregate total for candidates would be more useful to journalists and scholars than individual prices.
The broadcast groups, as part of their compromise proposal, have also agreed to put non-candidate political spot aggregate spending info online as well, which they point out goes beyond what the FCC was proposing.
Among the online disclosure modifications broadcasters have already agreed to make to their proposal in response to the FCC are including the name of the candidate, office they are running for and name of media buyer and the above-mentioned posting of non-candidate issue ads.
The FCC is proposing initially to apply the political and other public file online reporting requirements only to network affiliates in the top markets, about 200 stations, as a way to phase in the requirement, with the rest of the stations having to follow suit after two years. It is also proposing to allow stations to send the FCC PDFs and put the onus on the commission to post them online.
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