Last updated: March 22, 2011 - 9:00am
The Federal Communications Commission should require sponsors of political advertising to disclose their biggest financial backers to the public, according to a petition to be filed by the Media Access Project, which advocates on behalf of consumers in telecommunications issues.
MAP argues that the FCC has interpreted federal law too narrowly when it comes to disclosure for political ads. Under current rules, some of which date back to the 1940s, the FCC requires disclosure only for the group claiming responsibility for the ad, no matter how it paid for it. But Andrew Schwartzman, the media project’s senior vice president and policy director, says the Communications Act of 1934 and subsequent legislation anticipates a much broader standard: disclosure of those actually paying for the message. Schwartzman’s petition asks the FCC to revise its rules to require groups to disclose financial backers who contribute more than 10 percent of their budgets as part of public documents filed with broadcast stations. It would also require on-air disclosures for donors who provide more than 25 percent of a television commercial’s budget.
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