Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Palo Alto) issued the following statement after the House Appropriations Committee removed language yesterday in the Financial Services Appropriations bill that would have blocked implementation of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) rule to place the "public files" of broadcasters online. The original language was replaced with a new provision requiring a GAO study of the FCC rule. Under longstanding law, all local broadcast stations must maintain a public file for inspection which contains information related to a station's programming, staffing, and spending on political ads. Up until the FCC rulemaking, local broadcast stations were only required to keep these files in paper form.
"I applaud the Committee's decision to revisit this issue and study the merits of the FCC's commonsense transparency rule rather than shortchanging the American people by not allowing them access to public information online," Eshoo said. "The original language of Committee Republicans blocked the FCC's plan to bring this already-public information online and into the 21st century. The public file plays a critical role in promoting transparency both in elections and in the use of public airwaves. Making the public file more accessible to the public by putting it online is the right thing to do."
Specifically, the GAO study will include analysis of the information maintained by the FCC compared to that of the Federal Election Commission to determine if there is duplication of costs incurred by the federal government for maintaining the different systems. Also in the study will be an analysis of the impact of requiring broadcaster pricing information and the impact on the operational costs of broadcasters. The findings of the study are to be reported no later than July 2013.
In April, Rep. Eshoo called for the FCC to make broadcasters' political advertising files more accessible to the public by posting them on the Internet.