Broadcasters Push Back on FCC Plan to Post Names of Political Ad Buyers Online

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Bill Moyers reading his iPad on set (Credit: Dale Robbins)

Bill Moyers reading his iPad on set (Credit: Dale Robbins)

Sometimes in a dumbfounded moment the only response to the news is to rub your eyes in disbelief. Both of mine are quite irritated today at the audacity of corporate broadcasters as reported in a story online at The Washington Post. The headline sums it up: “Broadcasters Fight Plan to Post Names of Political Ad Buyers on Web.”

That’s right: The mega-media giants CBS and News Corp. (Rupert Murdoch’s minions), enriched beyond the imagination of Midas by money pouring into their local stations from political advertising in an election year, are stamping their feet like spoiled children and shouting: “No! We will not!”

They are defying the Federal Communication Commission’s request that they post on the Web the names of billionaires and front organizations — many of them super PACs — paying for those ads. That’s all: Give citizens access online to find out who’s buying our elections. Advocates of transparency in politics say that this is most efficient way voters can know “the true interests” behind all that money pouring into elections. Reasonable, no? Good for democracy, yes? And why shouldn’t CBS and NewsCorp oblige such a modest request, given the tremendous wealth they accumulated from their privileged use of airwaves that belong to all of us?

They should, but won’t, because they don’t have to as long as we let them get away with it. What to do? First, read the story. Second, sign up for email updates from the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Free Press and the Media Access Project, some of the public interest groups fighting for the FCC proposal. Then be in touch with to follow up on our conversation with Kathleen Hall Jamieson of the Annenberg Public Policy Center who is asking citizens to challenge the negative and deceptive political ads running on commercial stations where you live.

Let stations know that the poison they’re pouring into our political bloodstream has to stop, and so does their obstinate refusal to keep us from knowing who’s paying for it.

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  • JR Bob Dobbserella

    where’s the info on asking local broadcasters not run false PAC ads?

  • Anonymous

    I don’t know about you, but my reaction to people who are trying to hide stuff is to reject whatever they are promoting.

    All we have left is the vote.
    The only thing that stands between our survival and the 1890 robber barons is our vote.
    The consistent repeated vote for our better interests, over time, can make things better.
    Learn about and understand the issues of your better interests.
    Make sure they are YOUR better interests, not the Medias’ better interests.
    Really learn. It takes effort. There is so much fluff. Learn what you need and want.
    Vote for your better interests.
    Vote for your better interests again and again and again.
    Everyone – Vote in each election, primary and general.
    Between elections complain and write letters for your better interests.
    Get angry.  Praise them if they do things right.
    Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

  • Beastly Fool

    Someone ought to start a campaign to write a law to tax the airwaves and the cable/satellite industry for their broadcasting privilege, say 10% of their gross revenues, with conditions that they respect the public’s right to know and responsive to reasonable requests from the FCC.  If such a law found a couple true and persistent champions, with a 99% kind of sensibility, it might actually get some traction…

  • George Archibeque

    If they are going to have the audacity to buy our elections then we should have the audacity to demand to know who they are . I am  sure that they claim that they are patriotic , freedom loving citizens with nothing to hide , and surely have Americas best intrests in mind . If you demand anonimity ,you are up to no good

  • Drwebbjr

    Like Bill Moyers I am dumbfounded although I suppose we should not be surprised that corporations who are making millions from political adds do not wish to bite the hands that are feeding them. Never mind that this poisoning the political process and doing great damage to our democracy. For shame!

  • Lorinda Roland

    Not only the ads – transparency.  The news itself.  It angers me that in so many interviews on the various news channels the interviewer does not correct a guest…present an argument…when the
    guest makes statements that are false.  Nor does the interviewer subsequently present the true facts.   I find CNN often guilty of this.  A notable exception is Rachel Maddow who not only researches and presents the actual facts to viewers –  she also makes a point of apologizing when she has been in error.
    Bill Moyers –  I wish there were more of you !

  • Anonymous

    I found a breath of freshair – Thom Hartmann.

    He invites Heritage Foundation and others who he disagrees with and debates them.

    Two things we learn, in this example, the Heritage view of the world, some based on “spin” and then Thom presents “fact” and the voices get louder. But he allows them to speak and we decide. After each guest he mentions their internet website so we can learn more about his guests. I agree and sometimes agree with Thom Hartmann but I feel I get both sides of a topic.

    After listening to lies on our local AM talk radios for years, we confirmed the lies by subscribing to Time, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, the Nation, Progressive, High Tower, the Economist, Readers Digest and the newspaper and “started to read articles” with information in direct contrast to what was coming out of our “Choose the Right” AM talk stations of Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Fox, Savage, Medfled, and other “Right Wing” propaganda Millionaire Disk Jockeys. We concluded, they are lying to us.

    I wrote one of the five FCC Commissioners a few years ago, complaining about the loss of the Fairness Doctrine with One sided Politics, mainly Right Wing, that if I called into the station and disagree, they let me speak about two sentences then put me on “Mute” and call me names like being a Socialist, Marxist, or Communist for 5 minutes. After a few emails that were unanswered from the FCC commissioner(via FCC website), I mentioned that “I hope you are getting this”

    Sure enough he was reading my emails, he wrote back that the Fairness doctrine could not be brought back in the present “political climate” but that there would be a forthcoming announcement to bring back “local stewardship” to our community. A few months later, the Low Power FM stations, all 1500 future licensed, was announced. However, I have talked to people seeking licenses and the National Association of Broadcasters and other Corporations are standing in the way of the licensing with unreasonable requirements but it is law now and they cannot continure to block these local low power FM stations forever.

    Recently, in our state (not California), a bill probably written by ALEC, has been passed restricting guyed towers over 50 feet to have red/white and lighted for “crop dusting” safety in rural areas where these Low power FM stations would broadcast from. Coincidence, I think not, just another example of Corporate America to block these low power FM stations. Any structure over 50 feet. Without heighth, the FM stations are limited in range and audience. One dust cropping pilot in California died hitting a 198 foot tower, not a 50 foot tower. All guyed towers over 50 feet must be lighted and painted red/white.

    We started to think “Outside the box” and looked around at other ways to get our information, Bill Moyers and others.

    We have stopped listening to local AM and FM radio stations and wrote to them and told them so.

     We now have Satellite TV, the Internet radio, PBS, NPR, Ipod, Ipad, Iphone and Satellite car radio. All the home radios now are piped in with FM tuned to anything but Fox and Limbaugh.

    We do miss local advertisement and local event announcements from our local AM and FM stations but we no longer have Lies, Mis-information, and political polarization that incites us.

    We have found other ways to get our advertised specials and local events on the internet and print media.

    The “Howard Stern myth” of sure, 55% of Howard’s listeners hate him but they listen and buy his advertised products is no longer applicable. We have turned them off.

    Do yourself a favor, look for alternate media besides the Hate and mis-information, lies, distortion, of AM and some FM Broadcasts from the likes of Limbaugh and Fox and the other Millionaire Corporate Spinmasters.

    I did and became “enlightened” and feel I have enough informatiion sources to make conscience decision of what is “Real and true” and what is “Spin and Lies”.

  • Buying Our Future

    Negative ads ARE effective because so many Americans pay little to no attention to real news, much less politics.  It’s an easy way to buy tax cuts for billionaires: get low-information voters to vote on non-economic “wedge” issues and/or place doubt in their minds about supporting opposing candidates.  Either way, it is sooooo easy to get people to vote against their own economic interests by distracting them with nonsense.  Often, enough of them take the bait that it can tip the balance in close elections.  For the rich and powerful, it is worth an “investment” of a few million dollars to a Super PAC that will return many, many times that in rewards to big oil, giant corporations, and Wall Street when it comes time to legislate taxes and regulation.

    Our website: is dedicated to SuperPACs and Front Groups that buy American elections on behalf of billionaires, big oil, and Wall Street tycoons.

  • Pdigesu

    I am sorry to say that the only way to dislodge the powers in authority is force or complete insubordination singned SHEEP