Dems want public data on political ads

Three powerful congressional Democrats are putting pressure on the Federal Communications Commission to require that more companies post their records about political advertising online.

The FCC is currently weighing a request to require cable, satellite and radio stations to put their records online so that people can easily see which campaigns and groups are buying political ads on their airtime.

ADVERTISEMENT

Reps. Henry WaxmanHenry Arnold WaxmanLessons from Congress' last big battle on climate Current, former lawmakers celebrate release of new book on Jack Brooks, 'The Meanest Man in Congress' Finally, a presidential EMP order that may save American lives MORE (D-Calif.) and Anna EshooAnna Georges EshooOvernight Health Care: Public's view of drug companies sinks to record low in poll | NYC declares end to measles outbreak | Health advocates fear Planned Parenthood funding loss could worsen STD crisis Overnight Health Care — Presented by PCMA — Planned Parenthood ousts its president | Harris releases drug pricing plan | House Dem drug plan delayed until after recess Democratic chair: Medicare negotiating drug prices not moving before August MORE (D-Calif.) and Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonAl Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Democrats target Florida Hispanics in 2020 Poll: Six Democrats lead Trump in Florida match-ups MORE (D-Fla.) want the agency to get going with the process.

“The 2014 election is projected to be the most expensive midterm election cycle in U.S. history,” they wrote to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday. “Given this trend, it’s imperative that the FCC expand its online filing requirement to cable and satellite operators, as well as broadcast radio licensees.”

Broadcast television stations are currently required to post online copies of the contracts they make to sell political ads, a move that has been cheered by transparency advocates.

The same rules don’t apply to cable or satellite companies, however, nor to broadcast radio stations. The companies do have to keep records about their ad sales but they aren’t required to post them online.

Earlier this year, some advocacy groups tried to change that by filing a petition with the FCC to write new rules.  

Disclosing more data about who buys political ads and making sure it is presented in an easy-to-search format is a “commonsense” step that would be good for journalists, lawmakers and the public, the three members of Congress wrote.