The new rules could be a "big step forward" for transparency in 2016
The Federal Communications Commission is working towards expanding the disclosure rules on political advertising just in time for the 2016 elections. From what we have heard from some sources, these expanded rules can possibly provide another tool for the journalists as well as operatives in order to track campaign spending in what will likely be the most expensive campaign cycle ever. The rule-making process is still in its early stages of development as reported by one of the FCC officials but it is expected that these new rules could be in place before the first primary of the 2016 presidential election.
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This proposal asks for all the cable, satellite and radio companies to post online information about political ad buys. The new rule was circulated by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday and it is intended to bring all those companies in sync with the broadcast television stations. A rule of 2012 requires the television broadcasters to post information on an online FCC database in which details are gone over relating to the size of ad buys and the name of the person, campaign or group who sponsored it.
Advocates have been paying special attention for pressing the expansion of the rule and they have been saying that the broadcast television disclosures opened the public’s eyes to the amount of money being spent and who is spending it. Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center stated "But it is still a drop in the bucket in terms of disclosure.” Fortunately for them, the process has been going forward with a good pace.
In late July this year three transparency watchdogs including Sunlight Foundation, the Campaign Legal Center and Common Cause had filed a petition for the rule making to expand the disclosure rules. And soon after in August, FCC has been requesting for comment on this petition and a notice was circulated by the chairman which proposed rule-making this week. Wheeler's expanded proposal got support from democratic FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on Friday as she noted that the Congress has pressed the agency to keep pace with new technology. On the other hand, Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn helped approve the broadcast television rules in 2012 and three other commissioners still haven’t responded to request for comment.
"I am not a particularly optimistic person generally speaking, but [there are] a lot of good signs and reasons to be hopeful that this is going to move smoother," said Sean Vitka, federal policy manager for the Sunlight Foundation.
According to Sunlight Foundation, the broadcast television data has provided some valuable information regarding the number of groups which do not register with the Federal Election Commission. The foundation has acclaimed that the passing of the new rule would be a big step taken towards transparency in 2016.
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