Is the internet in the crosshairs of more Federal Election Commission regulation? Broadcasting & Cable covers a recent advisory opinion request and some comments received on the request.
Companies engaged in newsgathering do not have their expenditures for news coverage or commentary on a candidate counted as in-kind campaign contributions. The exemption from regulations on “contributions” to federal elections applies to “any news story, commentary, or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, unless such facilities are owned or controlled by any political party, political committee, or candidate,” according to campaign law.
The press exemption has been expanded to include online-news operations, but the definition of news operation is not a bright line and the CLC said Melothe definitely crosses it.