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Broadcasters relieved as reform bill dies

Broadcasters dodged a bullet Thursday night when the House voted against proceeding with the debate on campaign finance reform.

House Democrats were upset that the Republican leadership had stacked the deck against campaign finance reform by setting a rigid rule to guide the debate that allowed only for limited changes and increased the odds of adding killer amendments to the campaign finance reform bill sponsored by Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.).

The House voted 228-203 not to accept the rule, which observers expect will kill campaign finance reform for the year. Broadcasters breathed a sigh of relief when the rule was voted down because House leadership on Wednesday night unexpectedly left in the main Shays-Meehan bill a provision that would have required broadcasters, cable operators and satellite TV companies to give politicians deep discounts on ads, potentially costing TV broadcasters in particular hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

Sources say House and Senate leadership decided to leave the provision, sponsored by Sen. Robert Torricelli (D-N.J.), in the bill because they thought it would help convince fence-sitters to vote against the entire package.
- Paige Albiniak