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Broadcasters could lose campaign-finance fight - Broadcasting & Cable

Broadcasters could lose campaign-finance fight

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Broadcasters are gearing up for the upcoming fight on campaign-finance reform
in the House; one that, for the first time in years, they are expected to
lose.

Included in the main campaign-finance-reform package is a provision that
would require broadcasters to sell campaign ads to federal politicians at the
lowest rate ads in the same time periods have garnered over the past six
months.

One broadcast-industry executive estimated that this could give politicians
for federal offices (president, House, Senate) as much as a 65 percent discount
on ads.

The House is scheduled to vote Wednesday on three separate
campaign-finance-reform packages. The legislation with the most votes will go
through another round of debate, then either pass or fail.

Observers expect the surviving measure to be one authored by Reps.
Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.), which includes the
discount-ad provision. That amendment was written by Sen. Robert Torricelli
(D-N.J.), and it was included as part of the Senate's campaign-finance-reform
package last summer.

Broadcasters are having a hard time gathering support to rid themselves of
the provision. Sources said the Senate's main campaign-finance reform opponent,
Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), wants the provision to stay because he thinks it
will help him to kill the overall bill when it comes back to the Senate.

But conversely, sources said, Torricelli is telling House Democratic
leadership that the bill will only pass the Senate if the amendment stays
in.

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