The FCC Expands Its Database for Political Advertising

Campaign finance richie rich

Remember kids, any type of political transparency is good transparency. But the most recent FCC ruling is most definitely behind the times.



Last Thursday the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted on a measure that would expand its information database on political television advertising. Or in other words, if you’re running a political ad on cable TV, satellite, or radio station; you’re now required to post more information about your organization to better determine who is actually running the ads. Here are some quick points on the recent rules change:



  • Essentially, the new rules bring more transparency to political ads that aren’t televised on broadcast television – bringing them to broadcast standards – to make their information available online and not just at the office of the FCC. This is huge news if you’re either a journalist or watchdog group that keeps track of this stuff. Remember kids, political transparency is always good!


  • The new rules would specifically open up information that deals with who purchased the ads and how much was spent. These rules will help sites like OpenSecrets keep better track of super PACs during a busy campaign season like 2016.


Shown: Political Ad Buyer

Shown: Political Ad Buyer


  • Believe it or not, this is a big victory for political transparency advocates, because while broadcast television is still the place where the most political ads run, cable and satellite TV are becoming more popular due to many super PACs wanting to run ads for specific audiences. Also considering radio ads tend to have the boldest claims, it was important for many that they be included to the list as well.


  • But it wasn’t all roses. Many sites use data mining tools to create databases on who exactly runs political ads. In this instance, the data that is being collected won’t be machine readable. So instead of creating a program that would automatically pull data from these sites, someone would have to put this into their databases manually. Which is not only a pain in the ass to do, but more so introduces the element of human error where important information on campaign ads could be overlooked! While the FCC did update their disclosure rules, they unfortunately didn’t do it for this century.



(Photo Credit: Google Images)


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