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FFTF Behind Don't 'Rubber Stamp' TPA Campaign

Fight for the Future (FFTF) says it was behind a satirical campaign last week to try to get Republican lawmakers, usually no fans of the President, to oppose a bill supported by the White House that would "fast track" the President's Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) in service of a new trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that FFTF opposes.

TV and movie studios represented by the Motion Picture Association of America support the bill and the TPP for what they say are strong content protections, including digital content. FFTF calls TPP a secret deal — the TPP draft has not been made public though some of it has been on WikiLeaks and the site has put a $100,000 bounty on the whole thing — and says TPA gives the President too much power to conduct such secret negotiations.

FFTF had a letter hand delivered to each Republican member of House that purported to be from the President asking the legislator to "rubber stamp" his "secret trade agenda," and even including an actual rubber stamp saying "“I approve President Obama’s secret trade deal.”

A YouTube video shows a messenger dropping off envelopes to congressional offices and identifying them as from the White House.

“People from across the political spectrum oppose Fast Track/Trade Promotion Authority because we have learned that when our government acts in secret, it is never in the public’s best interest," the group said in taking credit for the campaign. "Republicans who claim to advocate for individual liberty should know better than to vote for legislation that gives unprecedented powers to the executive branch to make decisions in secret that affect everything from national sovereignty, to U.S. patent laws, to internet freedom."

The Senate approved the Trade Promotion Authority legislation May 22. Now it is the House's turn to vote.

The bill outlines the negotiating objectives that any administration has to follow in conducting trade talks, and requires Congress and the public to have access to information on trade deals before they are struck. The bill makes Congress a partner in trade agreements. It also deals with cyber theft, trade secrets and intellectual property protection. The last is particularly important to content providers like MPAA members.

In fact, MPAA on Monday sent out a flock of releases pointing to the impact on jobs and wages of the TV and movie industry and tied it to the need to protect those through TPA and TPP.

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.