The Sunlight Foundation, along with Common Cause and the Campaign Legal Center, have filed with the FCC complaints against 18 TV stations claiming that these stations violated the FCC’s sponsorship identification rules by not identifying former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg as the true sponsor of issue ads bought by the Independence USA political action committee. The complaint (available on the Foundation’s website as part of a press release on the action) alleges that stations have an obligation to look behind the named organizational sponsor to identify Mr. Bloomberg as the true sponsor of these ads, as he has provided all of the organization’s funding and directs its actions. These same organizations filed a similar set of complaints last year, some also targeting Mr. Bloomberg and the PAC with which he is associated, complaints which, for the most part, remain pending at the FCC (see our article here).
These complaints are very similar to the ones filed in 2014, arguing that where a PAC is 100% financed by a single individual, the individual should be identified on the air as the sponsor, not the PAC itself. The petitioners claim that, by not identifying Mr. Bloomberg as the true sponsor, the public is deceived as to who is behind the ads. This is despite the fact that, in the required sponsorship disclosure statements filed in the stations’ public files, Mr. Bloomberg is identified, as required by the rules, as the Chairman of the PAC and as one of its two officers. Apparently, this required disclosure is deemed insufficient by these groups. But what will the FCC think?
Continue Reading More Complaints Filed Against TV Stations for Allegedly Not Disclosing the True Sponsor of PAC Ad on Political Issues