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Spanish-language stations left out of campaign spending rule

April 9, 2012 | 12:34 pm

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski
Although Hispanic voters will play a big part in the 2012 election, Spanish-language stations have been left out of a proposed rule from the Federal Communications Commission requiring big city television stations to put detailed information online about what candidates are spending on the upcoming presidential race.

Later this month the FCC will vote on whether television stations should be required to publish  information online about how much politicians are spending on TV advertising. Such information is already available to the public, but anyone wanting to see it must visit a TV station and make a formal request. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has called making political advertising information readily available a common-sense update to what is already the law of the land.

Initially though, only stations that are affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in top-50 markets will be required to put political spending information on the Web. The rule tweak, which is expected to pass, would go into effect by late summer or early fall at the latest, still in time for the 2012 general election.

Other stations in smaller markets around the country would have up to two years to do so after the rule change goes into effect.

Media watchdogs are concerned that the rule change leaves out Univision and Telemundo stations as well as other Spanish-language outlets. Lots of money is expected to be spent on the Hispanic vote for the 2012 contest in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Dallas with large Spanish-speaking populations.

"This really needs to be fixed," said Corie Wright, an attorney with Free Press, a nonprofit media watchdog group. "If you are drawing a line at the top markets, you want to include the stations that are reaching a large number of households in those markets." Wright added that it is unfair of the FCC not to give Spanish voters the same access to political advertising information that it is providing to the rest of the electorate.

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 -- Joe Flint

Photo: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski. Credit: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

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