The FCC voted today to make more information about political ads available online. Cable TV, satellite and radio stations will all soon have to start posting information about the political campaigns and outside groups buying advertising on their platforms. This will bring those media in line with requirements for TV broadcasters.
House Democrats on Wednesday pressed for the FCC to reveal the sponsors of political advertisements. “In today’s political reality of non-stop campaigning, our system continues to fail the American people by allowing special interests and shadow groups to flood our airwaves with anonymous ads, with no disclosure whatsoever,” the lawmakers said in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
The people and groups paying for political ads on cable and satellite television will likely soon be searchable in a central online database maintained by the FCC. The FCC is slated to vote this month (before the Iowa caucuses) on rules that would require cable and satellite TV operators to post information online about advertising spending and who is behind the ads. The rules will also extend to broadcast and satellite radio.
Congressional Democrats’ push to strengthen political ad disclosures in time for the 2016 elections appears dead for now after hitting a roadblock at the FCC. Amid a divisive legal battle over new net neutrality rules and other pressing telecommunications issues at the FCC, Chairman Tom Wheeler suggested the commission has little appetite to take up a fix on its own.