Political Games Advertisers Play: A GOP Protection Racket

The nation’s biggest advertisers and marketers have developed an effective political operation in Washington. Madison Avenue and its clients have been able to ward off calls for policies, for example, that would protect our privacy. How the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) conduct its lobbying efforts have largely been off the radar screen. After all, the press cannot examine itself (since the ad lobby is ultimately tied to the fate and fortunes of broadcasting, cable, newspaper, and much of online).

So we thought it was worth pointing out a telling comment in a recent Advertising Age story written by its indefatigable and enterprising D.C. bureau chief Ira Teinowitz. In his story titled “What Democratic Control May Mean for Marketers” (Oct. 16, 2006), he quotes AAAA VP Dick O’Brien. A change in control, said O’Brien, would mean that “[T]he sort of protection we have had on the House Commerce Committee will disappear.”

While not a bombshell, such admissions help tell the story of how all too often, Commerce chair Joe Barton and Telecom subcommittee chair Fred Upton have worked to help the big buck special interest agenda (think Bells, cable and no network neutrality for broadband). While we don’t believe the Democrats are Saints, at least once in a while they will yell and scream. The Ad industry, in our opinion, needs to lose its protection racket defense.

Author: jeff

Jeff Chester is executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy. A former journalist and filmmaker, Jeff's book on U.S. electronic media politics, entitled "Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy" was published by The New Press in January 2007. He is now working on a new book about interactive advertising and the public interest.

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