House Democrats saluted the bipartisan approach to FCC process reform represented by the Friday (May 15) hearing that featured three Democratic-backed bills, but were unhappy by the one Republicans did not include.
The road not taken by the Republican majority, as it were, was a bill introduced last month by Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) that would direct the FCC to require the on-air sponsorship identifications on TV and radio political ads from PACs and nonprofits to better identify the actual funders of those ads.
In her opening statement on the hearing, ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) suggested that given that the bills being considered were about FCC transparency, the political ad bill was a good fit. "[I]t’s disappointing that the Majority has chosen not to consider H.R.2125, the Keeping Our Campaigns Honest Act," she said. "This was part of the package of bills offered by Democrats at the Subcommittee’s April 30th hearing. Recent election cycles and waves of spending by secret donors have made it painfully clear that our electoral system and campaign finance laws are in need of reform."
Sharing that disappointment was ranking member Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.). "I am grateful that chairman Walden is willing to give some of our proposals a fair hearing," he said. "I am disappointed, however, that this hearing does not include all of our proposals— including the one presented by Mr. Yarmuth. Transparency should extend to the political process as well as the FCC’s internal process. That is why our alternative package includes a way to ensure that the public knows who is paying for expensive political ads on TV. Americans deserve to know who is using the public’s airwaves to influence political debates. Transparency should not stop at the doors of the FCC."
Walden said he thought bringing up three of four Democrat-backed bills was a pretty good batting average, one he wished Republicans had had when he was in the minority.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.