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June 16, 2004, 10:46 AM
Gun Group's Radio Show Tests Limits on Advocacy
By JAMES DAO

Published: June 16, 2004

WASHINGTON, June 15 - In a direct challenge to federal limits on political advocacy, the National Rifle Association plans to begin broadcasting a daily radio program on Thursday to provide news and pro-gun commentary to 400,000 listeners.

The group says its jump into broadcasting with its program, "NRANews," means that it should be viewed as a media organization that does not have to abide by provisions of a sweeping campaign finance law from 2002. That law stops organizations from using unregulated "soft" money to buy political advertising that directly attacks or praises federal candidates in the weeks before federal elections and primaries.

The N.R.A. says its three-hour program constitutes news and commentary, not advertising. As a result, when other advocacy groups are required to stop running political commercials, "NRANews" intends to continue broadcasting its reporting and commentary against politicians who favor gun control to Nov. 2.

"The great thing about America is there is no test about the right to provide information to the American public," the executive vice president of the association, Wayne LaPierre, said in an interview this week. "There is no government licensing of journalists. Tom Paine was free to pamphlet. So are we."

The association challenged the new law, but the Supreme Court upheld most of its provisions.

Mr. LaPierre said the program, to be broadcast on Sirius satellite radio, would be a step toward a larger media enterprise. The organization is looking to acquire radio stations in the Midwest, the Rockies and the South, Mr. LaPierre said.

It operates a news-oriented Web site, NRANews.com, and publishes magazines that reach its nearly four million members.

The new move is likely to set off a broad debate over what is a media company. Experts in campaign finance said the plan could open a major loophole in the law, which was intended to reduce the influence of money and special interest groups.

"If the N.R.A. is successful at this, we will definitely see other groups explore going down the same road," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics and former general counsel to the Federal Election Commission.

Building a media enterprise can be expensive, but satellite radio offers the rifle association an instant means of reaching listeners nationally. Sirius, one of two nationwide satellite radio networks, offers 110 channels to its 400,000 subscribers, who pay about $13 a month. Company officials project that it will reach one million listeners by the end of the year. The company declined to comment on Tuesday about the plan.

Advocates of gun control sought to play down the plan, contending that it was simply to impress Republican allies of the group. The opponents questioned whether the association had the money to build a network, noting that its ambitious plans had fizzled in the past. In 2000, the association announced to much fanfare a proposal for a theme store and restaurant on Times Square. Nothing came of that plan.

"I think they are really just trying to show the Republicans that they are going to be able to do something at election time," said Robert A. Ricker, a former lobbyist for the gun industry who is a consultant to a gun-control group, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "It's a lot of hype, but I don't think there will be substantial content."

Under the new campaign finance law, groups are no longer allowed to use soft money to buy radio or television spots that advocate or oppose candidates within 60 days of a general election or within 30 days of a primary or a national political convention.

The law exempts media companies, allowing them to report on, analyze and even endorse federal candidates at any time. Mr. LaPierre said that after an exhaustive analysis, lawyers for his group had concluded that it would become eligible for the exemption after it had begun to broadcast its program.

"What we're doing is no different from what Rush Limbaugh, Howard Stern or Air America with Al Franken do," Mr. LaPierre said.

He said the program would probably not endorse a presidential candidate but would examine records on gun issues.

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2004/06/16/national/16nra.html?ex=1087963200&en=c99f542a7a80427a&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE
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Will McCain-Feingold become a meaningless regulation, just as all previous campaign finance refrom measures?

How about some feedback from THR members who are Sirius subscribers, on this show!

I haven't checked yet, perhaps nranews will be broadcast over the internet?

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Nightfa11
June 16, 2004, 11:02 AM
I'll be emailing XM and asking them to get this. We have that freak Al Franken....why not the NRA

flatrock
June 16, 2004, 11:25 AM
I'll definately be contacting XM as well.

edit: I contacted them via their web page.

mtnbkr
June 16, 2004, 11:33 AM
Yup, contacting Xm...

Chris

TarpleyG
June 17, 2004, 09:50 AM
Looks like I may be getting Sirius after all :D

Greg

If you enjoyed reading about "NRAnews on sirius satellite radio" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!