FCC to Force Broadcasters to Post Election Info Online

April 27th, 2012, the FCC will likely vote to force local broadcasters to post election information online. This is information that, until now, if you wanted to see you would have to go to the station and paw through their file drawers to see. The information includes The files information about election programming, staffing and spending on political ads. You will be able to quickly learn which candidates spend how much on ads station-by-station.

The New York Times explains:

Acknowledging the feedback from stations, the proposal will give smaller stations two more years to start uploading new additions to their files about political ad spending. At the outset, only the affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox in the top 50 TV markets will be required to do so.

The F.C.C. says the initial uploading will cost less than $1,000 for a typical station, and will save the stations money over time by avoiding printing and storage costs.

The uploaded files will be searchable — but only inside one file at a time. At least at first, it won’t be possible to conduct searches across all the files, to determine which person or political group has spent the most money on ads across the country, for instance. Critics have said that without fully searchable files, Internet accessibility is only a sligh

I am in favor of this move. It is long overdue. Broadcasters favor open records and this is in keeping with that. The public should know how much stations take in from campaigns and viewers should not have to wait months to find out. Stations complain this will cost them money but it is nonsense. They take big bucks from campaigns and this will be chump change in costs. When the FCC sent a staffer to talk with Poynter faculty about disclosure ideas more than a year ago, I strongly suggested this to them. I was not the first to think of it I am certain.

Th next thing the government should do is stop forcing broadcasters to air those silly disclaimers at the end of automotive commercials. The stations speed up the announcement so fast you cannot possibly understand them. It is a mockery. Post the disclosures online and be done with it. The advertisers then could use the time they dedicate to the disclosures to add content to the commercials that would help the client and the listener.

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