Broadcasters bash pol ad breaks

Campaign finance reform is coming to the House floor this week, and broadcasters are working hard to get rid of a provision that would require broadcasters, cable operators and satellite TV companies to give politicians deep discounts on ads.

The House Rules Committee determines the process the debate will follow in a meeting Wednesday night. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) want the Rules committee to strip the provision - named after its original sponsor, Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.) - from the main bill, saying it treads on their jurisdiction. Sources say the Rules Committee is likely to do that because the House tends to be sensitive about protecting committees' jurisdiction. Moreover, sources say the main sponsors of the House bill, Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), wouldn't mind seeing the Torricelli amendment go.

Its inclusion is making it difficult for some members to vote for the overall package while voting against their local broadcaster, many of whom have paid a visit to their representative in the last week or two. "Having discussed the issue with several people in the House leadership, it's my understanding that the Rules Committee is taking our jurisdictional concerns very seriously and that's a good sign," says Ken Johnson, Tauzin's spokesman. - Paige Albiniak