pair of House members have asked the Government Accountability Office to
investigate whether broadcasters are using their ad time and editorials to
influence legislation to benefit their interests, and if so, whether that is
being adequately disclosed. The National Association of Broadcasters says it
has a right to fight for itself, but that if believes it properly discloses
when it does so.
The letter was dated April 25 but was being
circulated Friday by backers of performance rights payment legislation.
In the letter, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) ask the Comptroller General of GAO to meet with their
staffs about a report, on an expedited basis, answering a host of questions
including how many spots were aired between 2007 and 2010 opposing the
Performance Rights Act, what spots or editorials aired that were "intended
to influence" other legislation, what was their value, did broadcasters
accept spots for opposing views, did it disclose the spots it was airing and where,
and was the fair market value for those stations obligated to disclose lobbying
Among the letter's requests was clarification
of whether the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act political files disclosures
require "the full and adequate disclosure of costs or value of spots aired
by a radio or TV broadcast station to influence legislation for its own
That comes as the FCC has voted to require
stations to put those political files online.
"NAB believes appropriate
disclosures were made on these messages. When free and local broadcasting is
threatened by bad public policy proposals, we have a First Amendment right and
responsibility to educate our millions of listeners and viewers."