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FCC Plan to Post Names of Political Ad Buyers Online Faces Stiff Opposition

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With intent to usher in an environment of transparency and openness and to address concerns over anonymous political contributions, Federal Communications Commission wants to put online, information hitherto kept in desk drawers and filing cabinets.

Meredith McGehee, the Campaign Legal Center’s policy director, ridiculed the prevalent system saying,  “This notion of someone walking in and looking at pieces of paper — in the 21st century — it’s ridiculous on its face and it merely is meant to obfuscate,’’

The Commission wants to put to a website the names of the campaign-ad buyers and the price at which they had made the purchases. Putting files online would help researchers “reveal the true interests behind the purchases.”

However, this has not gone down well with broadcasters, and they are opposing the plan.  CBS and News Corp.’s Fox are also amongst the broadcasters, who are critical of the plan.

The proposal would “impose significant new administrative burdens,” CBS and Fox stations told the agency. The National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC that the “agency lacks power to make the change.”

Taking advantage of a Supreme Court decision in 2010, that permitted unrestrained expenditure by corporations and labor organizations, super-PACs and Political Action Committees, spent unlimited amounts, independently of candidates.

Rep. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), said during a meeting of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “We desperately need openness,”’ “We’ve got a bunch of billionaires and millionaires who are pouring millions of dollars into the elections of this country, and to these super-PACs, with nobody having the vaguest idea of who they are, what they’re up to, what they want or what would be the consequences of it.’’

The huge spending that the current Presidential elections have incurred has been the catalyst that hastened the decision to put such information online. Mitt Romney and the groups supporting him have raised almost $100 million. Goldstein expressed concern that, “Campaign spending on local TV stations may climb to about $3 billion this year, up from $2.3 billion in 2008.”

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, “Making this information easily accessible will let the public see the large number of broadcasters that are doing a strong job of meeting their public-interest obligations, and also those that are not.”

Advocates of transparency and openness are convinced that this is the only way to monitor “the true interests” of those who are pouring in money into the elections. Political advertising has made the news corporations very rich and they are behaving in a very puerile and haughty manner, by defying the Federal Communication Commission’s request to post on the information they are only giving fuel to the assumption that they have something to hide.

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FCC Plan to Post Names of Political Ad Buyers Online Faces Stiff Opposition by
Authored by: Harrison Barnes