Eshoo Wants FCC to Extend Political File Reporting to Cable/Satellite

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Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has written Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski to argue for online reporting of TV station political files, including individual terms and conditions, and for expanding that requirement to cable & Satellite.

Political files are the files, currently residing in paper form at local stations and MVPDs, that chronicle political ad time buys per requirements to provide equal access and lowest-unit-rate charges.

Broadcasters have complained that real-time filing for that information will be a burden, especially on smaller stations, and require peoplehours and resources that will be taken away from local news and other important public service functions.

In a letter dated April 16, Eshoo wrote that she had "do doubt" the FCC could craft rules that would ease the process for smaller stations and minimize staff time that would have to be devoted to the task. She said not putting the information on the Internet was "inexcusable" given that the technology was available to bring disclosure "into the 21st Century."

The FCC has proposed hosting the site, allowing broadcasters to e-mail pdfs to the commission rather than have to post themselves, and will start with a two-year pilot program of about 200 top-market stations before requiring all stations to put their political files on line.

Eshoo said creating an FCC-hosted website is an "encouraging start." She also said she supported "future action" to bring the public files of cable and satellite providers online." The FCC has not proposed extending the requirement of online filing to cable and satellite operators.

The FCC is scheduled to vote on its online disclosure item April 27.

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