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FCC Chairman Wants to Expand Disclosures for Political Ad Sale Files

Tom Wheeler FCC
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Back in 2012, the FCC passed a rule requiring that broadcast stations post online publicly available files detailing agreements for sales of political ads. Now FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is proposing that that requirement be extended to satellite, radio and cable outlets.

The proposal to expand the requirement was to be circulated among other FCC commissioners on Thursday.

The proposal would not just apply to files on political ad sales, but other public documents, like public interest statements.

The political ad files, however, have generated the most interest, drawing millions of hits to the FCC’s website, according to an FCC official.

The proposal calls for the requirement to apply initially to big stations and major cable operators first, and then be phased in to smaller entities. That is the same rollout that the FCC used in its requirement for broadcasters.

TV stations at first balked at the FCC requirement, even though the files were publicly available. But most stations only offered them when members of the public actually visited the station itself and made a request to see them.

Time Warner Cable already posts political ad sales reports on its website, and the FCC official said they are looking into how to ensure that such information can be collected so it is accessible in one location.