The FCC’s Media Bureau has released a brief decision on the Sunlight Foundation’s complaint petition against two TV stations concerning the proper sponsorship identification for an ads by Political Action Committees. The complaints filed in July concerned elections that took place last year. The complaints targeted two PACs that each had single individuals who had donated substantially all of the money that was raised by the PAC. Sunlight had claimed that the stations should have tagged the ads with the name of the individuals who had provided virtually all of the money for the PACs as the true sponsors. Instead, the stations had run sponsorship identifications identifying the PACs as the sponsors of the ads.
The Bureau dismissed the complaints. However, the Bureau did not find Sunlight’s allegations to be incorrect. Instead, the complaints were dismissed because Sunlight never went to the stations to ask that they change the sponsorship identification on the PAC spots during the course of the election. The Bureau stated that it was using its prosecutorial discretion not to pursue these complaints, going so far as to say that the ruling might have been different had the request for a proper identification been made to the stations during the course of the election.
Based on this decision, it is expected that broadcast stations will see requests for stations to look behind the sponsorship identification provided by political ads by PACs in the current election season.
The decision is available at the following link: http://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2014/db0902/DA-14-1267A1.pdf