FCC Has Failed to Protect Voters' Right to Know Who Is Behind Political Ads in Election 2016

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The Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Sunlight Foundation and Benton Foundation filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission urging the agency to take immediate action against WCPO-TV of Cincinnati (OH) for failure to comply with the longstanding public file requirements of Section 315 of the Communications Act. The complaint was accompanied by a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, chastising the commission for doing “absolutely nothing” to enforce public file rules. The groups are represented by the Institute for Public Representation of Georgetown University Law Center (IPR). “The public file requirements of the Communications Act play an important role in providing transparency in our electoral system, especially post-Citizens United,” said Meredith McGehee, policy director for the Campaign Legal Center. “As the number of super PACs buying up television and radio airtime increases, the transparency of who is behind political ads is becoming increasingly murky. It is the FCC’s responsibility to ensure stations disclose information about who pays for advertisements. The FCC, in its failure to enforce laws that protect voters’ right to know, has clearly led broadcasters to freely ignore existing regulations with impunity.”

The letter reminds Chairman Wheeler about the commission’s “abject failure” to resolve 11 public file complaints pending since May 2014, despite his assurance that “We take political file complaints seriously and anticipate resolving these quickly.” The letter underscores that the law is intended to protect Americans’ right to know who is behind political ads and who is trying to persuade voters.

FCC Has Failed to Protect Voters' Right to Know Who Is Behind Political Ads in Election 2016 Read the compliant (Read the complaint) Letter to Chairman Wheeler (Letter to Chairman Wheeler) Groups Lodge Political File Complaint at FCC (Broadcasting&Cable) WCPO Hit With Complaint Over Issue Ad IDs (TVNewsCheck)