Democratic senators back FCC rule that could shed light on campaign ads

Eight Democratic senators have given their "full support" to a proposed Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rule that could force more disclosure regarding political ads.

In a letter sent Wednesday to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, the senators said they support the proposal that would have television broadcasters post online their files that detail information on who is paying for ads.

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"We want to express our full support of the Federal Communications Commission’s proposed rule to have broadcast stations make political files publicly available online and we urge you to implement these proposed rule changes as soon as possible. With campaign season in full swing and new Super PACs springing up weekly, the public must have access to information about who is funding these ads," the letter says.

The letter was signed by Sens. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Finance: Lawmakers float criminal charges for Wells Fargo chief | Scrutiny on Trump's Cuba dealings | Ryan warns of recession if no tax reform Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal MORE (D-Ore.), Al FrankenAl FrankenAnti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Overnight Tech: TV box plan faces crucial vote | Trump transition team to meet tech groups | Growing scrutiny of Yahoo security Overnight Regulation: Supporters push for TV box reforms ahead of vote MORE (D-Minn.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseAnti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP Overnight Energy: SEC begins probing Exxon Senate Dems unveil new public option push for ObamaCare MORE (D-R.I.), Michael BennetMichael BennetEconomists have a message: Clinton's policies are wrong for America Senate rivals gear up for debates Grassley pulling away from Dem challenger MORE (D-Colo.), Mark BegichMark BegichRyan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority Senate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect MORE (D-Alaska), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Jon TesterJon TesterElection-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal Overnight Finance: Senate rejects funding bill as shutdown looms | Labor Dept. to probe Wells Fargo | Fed to ease stress test rules for small banks MORE (D-MT) and Tom UdallTom UdallTensions rise over judicial nominees Dem senator wants to change nomination rules amid Garland fight Dem senators back Navajo lawsuit against EPA MORE (D-N.M.).

Broadcasters currently have to make these files available to the public, but only in paper form. Under the proposed rule, the files would be hosted on a FCC-run website.

"The information in these files should be available in an online, searchable database, and disclosures should include information about the people and organizations that purchase political advertisements," the letter says.

The National Association of Broadcasters has said the proposed rule would be too burdensome for TV stations to comply with. Watchdog groups have backed the rule because it would provide more information about political ads during campaign season.

The proposed rule is might not reveal new information about who is funding political ads because the ad sponsor's name may not disclose all of its backers.