Bureau tosses two complaints alleging inadequate sponsorship IDs – but that may not be good news in the long run.
Several months ago we reported on complaints filed against a dozen or so TV stations with respect to the stations’ alleged failure to include in their online political files all of the various detailed information required by applicable political advertising laws. We expected that that was just an opening salvo.
Turns out we were right.
The same two complainants (this time joined by a third compadre) have since filed a couple more, based not on the political rules, but rather on the more general sponsorship identification requirements of Section 317 of the Communications Act.
The Media Bureau has already turned away those two complaints. BUT it left the door wide open for more. And, unfortunately, in so doing the Bureau provided little if any useful guidance for broadcasters, but considerable encouragement for complainants. As a result, we can expect to see more such complaints rolling in.
The recently-tossed complaints were filed by the Campaign Legal Center and the Sunshine Foundation (the folks who had filed the complaints we reported on last May), along with Common Cause. One was directed to Station KGW(TV), Portland, Oregon, the other to WJLA-TV, Washington, D.C. In each case the station had run a flight of spots paid for by a “Super PAC”. (In KGW’s case, the PAC was the American Principles Fund; in WJLA’s it was the NextGen Climate Action Committee.) The spots all included sponsorship ID’s identifying the respective PAC.
But, according to the complainants, that wasn’t enough.Continue Reading...