Television stations have been gleefully looking forward to cashing in on another political season, but their euphoria has been dampened by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which wants the broadcasters to post online information about each political ad.
The broadcasters, as expected, say it would be too much trouble and might even be costly. They'd rather just take the money and let the voters try to figure out what's what.
Stations already collect the information, which includes the name of the candidate or group running the ad, the reason for broadcasting the ad, the time and placement and the cost.
So all that would really be involved is taking the existing information and posting it to a Web site that would be operated by the FCC. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) says it would be "a significant challenge" to do that.
Broadcasters want the FCC -- meaning the taxpayers -- to reimburse them for their trouble.
An attorney who represents broadcasters told Advertising Age the public posting would enable candidates to find out which stations had the best advertising rates, which would be bad for business.
"The FCC is just trying to bring broadcasters into the 21st Century," said Corie Wright, an attorney for Free Press, a media reform group. He said making the information public would bring much-needed scrutiny to independent political groups next year.