Groups Rip FCC For Not Enforcing Public File Rules On Political Issue Ads
September 27, 2016 at 5:40 AM (PT)
Attorney and longtime FCC critic ANDREW JAY SCHWARTZMAN has filed a letter on behalf of the CAMPAIGN LEGAL CENTER, COMMON CAUSE, SUNLIGHT FOUNDATION, and BENTON FOUNDATION complaining that the FCC is failing to enforce its public file and campaign ad backer disclosure rules regarding issue advertising.
In the letter to Chairman TOM WHEELER, dated MONDAY (9/26), the groups call for "immediate action" and charge that "Despite assurances about the importance of facilitating public access to broadcaster, cable and satellite public files, the Commission has done absolutely nothing to enforce these provisions." Noting that CLC and SUNLIGHT filed complaints in 2014 against 11 stations for not keeping complete and accurate public files for political ads and that the complaints have not been resolved, the group has filed an additional complaint against SCRIPPS ABC affiliate WCPO-TV/CINCINNATI for "particularly egregious noncompliance," alleging that 16 of 17 entries in the station's public file pertaining to 2016 non-candidate political issue ads did not include the necessary information about who financed the ads, while crosstown NBC affiliate WLWT-TV "easily performed the necessary due diligence to comply with the rules with respect to several of the very same ads."
The letter was accompanied by a study looking at 1,220 issues ads on broadcast TV stations showing only 65% compliance with the public file rules for those ads.