House unit pans low pol ad rates

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No provision that would require TV broadcasters, cable operators and satellite TV providers to give politicians severely reduced advertising time should be included in the House's version of campaign finance reform, key members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Wednesday.

The House is expected to begin debate on campaign finance reform, which may include such a provision, after the Fourth of July recess. The Senate in March passed its version of campaign finance reform, which included similar language sponsored by Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.).

"[T]he effect of the amendment will be longer campaigns and starkly different treatment of political candidates from commercial advertisers. While we would all benefit financially as political candidates from the implementation of the Torricelli Amendment, we do not think political candidates should receive a substantially lower rate for ad slots than the local car dealer, the mom-and-pop store owner or the local restaurant," wrote House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.), ranking Democrat John Dingell (D-Mich.), House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) to House Administration Committee Chairman Robert Ney (R-Ohio), ranking member Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and campaign finance reform sponsors Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Martin Meehan (D-Mass.).

NAB, who is fighting hard to defeat the amendment, was quick to show its support. "We applaud the bipartisan efforts of Reps. Tauzin, Dingell, Upton and Green to remove the Torricelli amendment from campaign finance reform legislation," said NAB President Eddie Fritts. "Far from being 'reform,' the Torricelli amendment would result in perpetual political campaigns and more negative attack ads. We urge members to reject this amendment." - Paige Albiniak

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