FCC Launches Rulemaking in Response to Watchdog Petition


Today the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched a rulemaking to expand online political file requirements to cable satellite and radio.  The action came in response to a petition filed last week by the Campaign Legal Center, the Sunlight Foundation, and Common Cause.  The FCC notice requests public comment on the organizations’ petition to extend cable and satellite providers the requirement to post their public files online that now cover broadcasters.  In recent years, the amount of political advertising on these other outlets has jumped significantly and is expected to grow even more.

“The Commission in many cases sits on rulemaking petitions for years, so we are very pleased to see them move so quickly on our petition,” said Meredith McGehee, Policy Director of the Campaign Legal Center.  “Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on political ads every election cycle seeking to influence cable and satellite viewers and radio listeners, and the stations already ready maintain these files.  Making them available online is not a hardship, especially in light of the economic windfall the stations gain from airing the ads.  We have been pushing for years for greater disclosure and were gratified when the Commission moved forward this past July to require all broadcast licensees to put their public file on the FCC website.  Broadcasters’ claims that such requirements were burdensome were not accompanied by proof since these days TV stations conduct all of their transactions on computers.  This should be a no-brainer."

“We are hopeful that this extension to other forms of television will not be a heavy lift, so the FCC can then turn to getting the uploaded information into a user-friendly database to replace the clumsy PDFs the stations now use.”

To view the petition for rulemaking filed by the Campaign Legal Center, the Sunlight Foundation, and Common Cause, click here