Senate Reactions to FCC Online Disclosure Proposal

Senators have recently weighed in on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal that television broadcasters’ public files, including their “political file,” be posted online on a public server. 

Democrat Senators Jeff Merkely (OR), Al Franken (MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Michael Bennett (CO), Mark Begich (AK), Daniel Akaka (HI), Jon Tester (MT), and Tom Udall (NM) signed a joint letter to FCC Chairman Genachowski urging the FCC to quickly adopt this rule and post this information in a searchable database online. They specifically noted the political file’s importance and stated, “The public files need to be taken out of the file cabinet and moved onto the Internet to ensure that the public has easy access to this information.” 

Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), however, sent his own letter to the FCC Chairman noting that he thinks the FCC proposal is “burdensome and unnecessary.” He also wanted to know how much the FCC estimated the proposal would cost to broadcasters and to the government, and how the FCC intended to pay for the new expense.

NRB has filed public comments urging the FCC to reject this proposal requiring mandatory Internet disclosure by television stations of "political files" and information related to issue-advocacy organizations. NRB President & CEO Dr. Frank Wright stated, “Current FCC disclosure mandates are more than adequate, making these new proposed regulations ill-conceived because they would make ordinary Americans – who just happen to be active in a particular political cause – vulnerable to targeted attacks by individuals or groups that disagree with them.”

By Aaron Mercer, Vice President Government Relations