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.

"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 Healthcare: Top ObamaCare lobbyists reject 'public option' push | Groups sound alarm over Medicare premium hike Top ObamaCare lobbyists reject 'public option' push Liberal groups urge Schumer to reject Bayh for Banking gavel MORE (D-Ore.), Al FrankenAl FrankenGreat Lakes senators seek boost for maritime system Court ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Why Yahoo's breach could turn the SEC into a cybersecurity tiger MORE (D-Minn.), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseMoney for nothing: Rethinking CO2 Dem takes Exxon fight to GOP chairman's backyard Anti-trade senators say chamber would be crazy to pass TPP MORE (D-R.I.), Michael BennetMichael BennetSenate poll raises Republican hopes in Pennsylvania, Florida Podesta floated Bill Gates, Bloomberg as possible Clinton VPs GOP Senate candidate reverses course, says he’ll vote Trump MORE (D-Colo.), Mark BegichMark BegichTrump campaign left out of Alaska voter guide Ryan's victory trumps justice reform opponents There is great responsibility being in the minority MORE (D-Alaska), Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), Jon TesterJon TesterCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Election-year politics: Senate Dems shun GOP vulnerables Democrats press Wells Fargo CEO for more answers on scandal MORE (D-MT) and Tom UdallTom UdallCourt ruling could be game changer for Dems in Nevada Tensions rise over judicial nominees Dem senator wants to change nomination rules amid Garland fight 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.