Broadcast Groups Pitch Chairman On Political File Compromise

Last-ditch effort to put aggregated ad totals online instead of individual ad buys
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An attorney and some top broadcast group execs
met with FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and Media Bureau staffers earlier this
week to make a last-ditch pitch for their proposal to put aggregated political
ad totals from candidates online, rather than individual ad buys.

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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