Okay, maybe it’s not that they don’t want you to know, but the nation’s broadcasters are dragging their heels on making it much easier to learn who’s cutting the checks for all those political ads.
Columbia Journalism Review reports that The National Association of Broadcasters has moved to halt a recent Federal Communications Commission ruling which would require TV stations to post political ad buy data online.
And why might this data be of interest to members of the public who don’t have the time to actually physically inspect stations’ public files? The FCC’s Steven Waldman explains:
One of the most interesting components of the file: broadcasters are required to keep a log of the political advertising that airs on their channel. This is a potential gold mine of information about who is spending what. The requirement applies to all races—national, state, and local—and issue ads, and must be posted rapidly (usually within forty-eight hours). Stations also must maintain a list of the executives or members of the board of directors of the groups buying the ads.
One can certainly understand why the public might be interested in being able to point and click their way to this sort of information.