This article is referring to this FEC Advisory Opinion. In his concurrence, Chairman Smith (who may just be tweaking campaign spending restrictionists) writes:
Campaign Laws Could Suppress Partisan Books -- FEC COMMISSIONER: MEANING OF 'PRESS' NEEDS CLARIFYING
On Friday, the [Federal Election Commission] commission ruled unanimously that a conservative advocacy group called Citizens United was not entitled to a press exemption to promote a documentary or book entitled "The Many Faces of John Kerry, Why This Massachusetts Liberal Is Wrong for America."
The group did not have a "commercial interest" in promoting the book, and it had planned to pay to air the film, rather than to make money off it. It also did not have a history of book publishing, and its activities would not be part of a "normal, legitimate [media] function," the commission found.
Election-year books such as "Bush Must Go: The Top Ten Reasons Why George Bush Doesn't Deserve a Second Term," by Bill Press, and "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry," by John E. O'Neill and Jerome R. Corsi, contain the kind of "express advocacy" against specific candidates that cannot be paid for by corporate funds. "These could be subject to government regulation (and potentially suppression) under the campaign finance laws, because they appear to expressly advocate the defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate, and are produced and promoted by corporations," wrote Mr. Smith in a little-noticed concurrence to a commission advisory opinion last week.
As the documentary and book advertisements are not protected by the pressSo, basically, if the "media exception" is restricted to news, commentary, and editorials then book publishers who almost by definition don't do news, commentary, or editorial but rather exclusively commercially distribute the works of others may be subject to the new law.
exemption of 2 U.S.C. 434(f), it would appear that they are also not protected
by the general press exemption of 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i), which uses
substantially identical language. That being the case, if they were to expressly
advocate the election or defeat of a federal candidate, the production and
distribution costs would seem to entail numerous violations of the law,
including the ban on corporate expenditures, 2 U.S.C. 441b; the disclosure
provisions of 2 U.S.C. 441d; reporting requirements of 2 U.S.C. 434; and perhaps
various organizational and registration requirements of 2 U.S.C. 432 & 433.
Authors, their publishers, and the public at large should consider the
implications of applying the press exemption in this narrow fashion.
Documentaries and books as such are not specified as exempted activities in the
Act, which refers in pertinent part specifically to, "a news story, commentary,
or editorial distributed through the facilities of any broadcast station?;" 2
U.S.C. 434(f)(3)(B)(i), and, "any news story, commentary, or editorial
distributed through the facilities of any broadcasting station, newspaper,
magazine, or other periodical publication? ." 2 U.S.C. 431(9)(B)(i). Thus, under
a narrow approach, it may be that the publication and promotion of a number of
popular books are vulnerable to a similar result
This sees book publishing as a form of advertisement (like the Pennysaver newspapers) which corporations cannot do without following campaign law guidelines.
The argument is unlikely to actually restrict book publishers because of respect for tradition but "newscasters" like NRA News.com may have more difficulty.