It’s always a treat to check in with the House Office of the Clerk’s lobbying disclosure database and see what broadcast radio’s big boys are spending on Congress these days. Needless to say, the top roller is usually Clear Channel Communications, which forked over $1,370,000 in the second quarter of this year.
And what did that wascally wadio company use the money for? According to its disclosure form, Clear Channel educated our nation’s representatives on the Fairness Doctrine, “broadcast decency enforcement,” satellite stuff, various bills relating to the proposed Performance Rights Act, which would require radio stations to pay royalties to artists as well as copyright holders, the Radio Spectrum Inventory Act, and H.R. 5175/S. 3295, aka the (hold your breath) “Democracy is strengthened by casting light on spending in elections act.”
That last bill’s summary says it amends the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to prohibit foreign entities and government contractors from “making expenditures with respect to such elections.” The bill treats payments of “coordinated communications” as “contributions.” And that includes
any communication that republishes, disseminates, or distributes, in whole or in part, any broadcast or any written, graphic, or other form of campaign material prepared by a candidate, an authorized committee of a candidate, or their agents. [italics added]
That’s probably what has Clear Channel’s attention in this bill.
According to the Open Secrets database, Clear Channel isn’t tossing out quite the level of moolah that it did back in 2008, when it spent over $4.0M on Congress. But $1.37 million in one quarter isn’t turkey feed.
CC’s nearest competitors don’t even come close to this figure. The runner up as far as I can tell is CBS Corporation, which has its hands in lots of broadcast and online radio ventures (eg, Last.fm). CBS spent $800,000 on Congress in Q2, mostly talking up the same issues. It doesn’t appear that Cumulus has done any lobbying in years.
This is all on a company level, of course. On a trade association level, nobody outdoes the National Association of Broadcasters when it comes to lobbying. Last quarter the organization spent $3,020,000 making sure its positions on Capitol Hill were perfectly clear.
Just one dollar a month makes you a patron of Radio Survivor. Help us through our Patreon Campaign!