Group Asks FCC To Require Disclosure Of Who's Really Behind Political, Issues Ads
March 23, 2011 at 4:24 AM (PT)
The MEDIA ACCESS PROJECT has filed a Petition for Rulemaking asking the FCC to require all ads regarding elections or "other controversial issues of public importance" to disclose the identity of the parties funding the entities purchasing the time. The group is proposing a new rule to require such disclosure and to add a requirement that broadcasters get sworn statements from political advertisers as to their largest sources of funding and place the statements in their public files.
"(C)urrent sponsorship identification rules are obsolete, and do not ensure effective disclosure in the case of many political advertisements," wrote the group. "The Commission should use its broad powers under the Communications Act to revise its rules to enable meaningful disclosure of the true sponsors of political advertisements."
The MAP charged that despite Section 317's requirement of sponsor identification, the statutory objective has not been met by the present rule. "(T)here has been a new wave in spending for political and issue advertisements by organizations which are not required to disclose the identities of their donors. Existing campaign finance and IRS regulations allow organizations which are often hollow shells for one or a few organizations or individuals to purchase commercials without identifying the source of their funding ... The current rules have not ensured meaningful disclosure for political ads due largely to the Commission’s current, limited interpretation of the meaning of sponsorship."